American Legislative Exchange Council

 

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is one of the best-funded and most prolific industry front groups.  With annual revenues in excess of $5 million,[22]  ALEC advances the agendas of its corporate backers in state legislatures all across the country.

 

In 2002, the Defenders of Wildlife teamed up with the National Resources Defense Council to issue a report exposing the shady tactics employed by ALEC.  "[W]hile ALEC purports to be a 'good-government' group operating in the public interest, its sole mission is to advance special-interest legislation across the nation on behalf of its corporate sponsors and funders," the groups found.  "ALEC is nothing less than a tax-exempt façade for the country's largest corporations and kindred entities."[23]

 

Whether the issue is the environment, education or telecommunications, ALEC's modus operandi is the same.  ALEC brings state lawmakers and "their private sector counterparts to the table as equals."[24]   Corporate lawyers then assist in drafting "model" legislation that ALEC works to get passed in state legislatures.  Mother Jones magazine characterized ALEC's work as "ghostwriting …business-friendly bills."[25]

 

ALEC has accepted contributions from many of the top telecom industry players: AT&T, BellSouth, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, SBC Communications (now merged with AT&T), Sprint, Verizon Communications and more.[26]

 

In return, ALEC pushes telecom legislation that bars or makes it difficult for local governments to offer broadband Internet services to their citizens, even in areas where the telecom giants have determined it's not economically worthwhile to offer such service, such as rural and low-income areas (view ALEC's "model bill" online).  ALEC has backed such bills in a number of states, including Louisiana,[27]  Nebraska,[28]  and Wisconsin.[29] 

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Footnotes:

 

[22] According to 2003 and 2004 Internal Revenue Service Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, publicly available on GuideStar.org.  Back to report.
[23] Defenders of Wildlife and National Resources Defense Council, "Corporate America's Trojan Horse in the States: The Untold Story Behind the American Legislative Exchange Council," 2002: 1.  Back to report.
[24] American Legislative Exchange Council, "Join ALEC" at http://www.alec.org/7.html (last visited 15 Mar 2006).  Back to report.

[25] Karen Olsson, "Ghostwriting the Law," Mother Jones, Sept/Oct 2002.  Back to report.
[26] Defenders of Wildlife and National Resources Defense Council, "Corporate America's Trojan Horse in the States: The Untold Story Behind the American Legislative Exchange Council," 2002: 24.  Back to report.

[27] Karl Bode, "BBR Interview with Jim Baller, Municipal Broadband attorney," 28 Jul 2004, available at http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/50377 (last visited 23 Mar 2006).  Back to report.

[28] MuniWireless.com, "Nebraska Introduces Anti-Municipal Broadband Bill," at http://www.muniwireless.com/archives/municipal/520 (last visited 23 Mar 2006).  Back to report.
[29] "Wisconsin State Representative Phil Montgomery Receives 'Legislator of the Year' Award from ALEC," U.S. Newswire, 22 Aug 2005.  Back to report.