AOL To End ALEC Membership

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  • Dale Eisman

Keep the exodus going — tell eBay to be the next tech leader to leave ALEC!

Online giant AOL Inc, has decided to end its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Common Cause has learned; a company official confirmed the move today and said the decision was made “a number of weeks ago.”

AOL becomes the latest in a series of major tech companies to cut ties with the secretive corporate lobbying group. Microsoft announced its departure in August. A month later, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt declared on a nationally-broadcast radio program that ALEC was “literally lying” about climate change and that Google’s funding for the organization was a “mistake.” Following Google’s lead, Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo, International Paper, Occidental Petroleum, News Corp,, and SAP have all confirmed that they have left or are planning to leave ALEC.

More than 21,000 Common Cause activists have signed a petition asking AOL to leave ALEC. AOL previously was a member of ALEC’s Communications and Technology Task Force and Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force. While AOL has been a corporate leader in fighting for Open Internet protections, ALEC has lobbied against those policies.

ALEC, founded in the 1970s, connects corporate lobbyists and executives with hundreds of state legislators across the country. The group entertains the lawmakers at annual seminars where it and its corporate members pick up the tab for travel and hotel expenses and vote as equals with the elected officials on “model” bills often drafted by lobbyists. Legislators typically introduce that legislation without acknowledging its origins in ALEC.

Common Cause is pursuing a tax “whistleblower” complaint against ALEC with the Internal Revenue Service, accusing the organization of masquerading as a charity while functioning as a corporate lobby. ALEC’s non-profit tax status allows its corporate supporters to deduct their contributions to the organization on their corporate tax returns, in effect providing a tax subsidy for ALEC’s lobbying.