The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a corporate-funded organization of state legislators, lobbyists and corporations that operates as a non-profit, yet nevertheless lobbies lawmakers to draft legislation favoring the interests of corporate members. ALEC takes credit for the passage of stand-your-ground gun laws, as well as legislation weakening environmental regulations, privatizing public schools, and allowing corporations to avoid liability when their products or services are defective. In addition, ALEC provides extensive financial and other campaign support to its legislator members.
An estimated 2,000 state legislators have paid a $50 membership fee to join ALEC. In return, ALEC provides "scholarships" which pays airfare, hotel and other expenses so members and their families can attend model-legislation "boot camps." Since 2006, ALEC has spent an estimated $4 million to send lawmakers on these retreats. ALEC claims that during the 2009-2010 election cycle alone, nearly 180 of its model bills were enacted and that model bills were adopted in every state in the union. Illinois is no exception. Since 2001, ALEC corporate members have spent more than $11 million dollars in Illinois on ballot issues and candidates. As a non-profit, ALEC is tax-exempt. In return for its tax breaks, ALEC agrees to refrain from activities including "significant lobbying efforts."
In 2012, Common Cause filed a whistleblower complaint with the IRS complaining of massive under-reporting of lobbying activities by ALEC. The IRS is currently reviewing that complaint. We need to take further action to stop ALEC from operating as a non-profit. In 2015, Common Cause, along with the Center for Media and Democracy, supplemented the initial complaint and added more evidence that ALEC is falsely passing as a non-profit organization. In addition, in September 2016 more than 100 companies and 19 non-profit organizations have cut ties with ALEC. In 2017, the fight continues in removing ALEC’s non-profit status.