On Sunday April 22, 2012, the New York Times ran a major expose about ALEC on its front page based on thousands of pages of unreleased ALEC documents obtained by Common Cause and shared with the Times. Common Cause, represented by one of the US’s most renowned whistleblower law firms Philips & Cohen, used these documents to file a 4,000 page IRS Whistleblower complaint against ALEC. Based on this evidence, Common Cause has now asked more than 30 state Attorneys General to investigate the group, including in New York, New Jersey, Kentucky and North Carolina.
These materials demonstrate that ALEC has been wrongly operating as a tax-exempt charity for almost 40 years. As a 501C3 charity, ALEC has assured the IRS that it is acting in the public interest, and has certified that it does not spend even a single dollar to influence the passage of legislation. This has allowed millions of dollars of ALEC’s corporate contributions to be tax deductible, effectively providing the group with a public subsidy to lobby on behalf of its private sector members.
Common Cause is making all of these materials available online here, for journalists, activists and other concerned citizens to examine, and then we hope to use, to shine a light on how corporations and other special interests have utilized ALEC to quietly advance their own agenda since 1973. This agenda has included legislation rolling back voting rights, reducing environmental protections and stripping away collective bargaining rights for workers around the country.
Task Force materials
ALEC’s task forces, organized around policy areas, discuss and adopt ALEC model bills, that ALEC then takes and promotes. These are the materials sent to the legislative members of the task forces before each meeting. Common Cause has obtained the materials for each task force for the past six ALEC conferences. These contain details of the agenda, minutes, draft model legislation, membership lists and other interesting materials.
ALEC routinely sends emails to legislative members supporting or opposing legislation, typically related to an ALEC model bill. These feature commentary on the policy area in question, and are without question evidence of systematic lobbying by ALEC.
For two of ALEC’s task forces - Civil Justice and Energy, Environment & Agriculture, Common Cause has obtained copies of ALEC’s own legislative tracking documents, which detail where their model legislation has been introduced and track its progress through statehouses. These materials are sent regularly to the members of both of these two ALEC task forces.