Sallie Mae Drops ALEC Membership
- Dale Eisman
Sallie Mae today became the 50th corporation to drop its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, over the last year-and-a-half, an exodus that began with the controversy surrounding an ALEC-backed gun law in Florida in 2012, and which has continued as Common Cause and other groups have challenged ALEC’s claims that it is not engaged in lobbying and does not need to register under state lobbying laws.
In May, 200 student activists gathered outside Sallie Mae’s annual shareholder meeting in Newark, DE to demand that it drop its ALEC membership. At the time, Sallie Mae CEO John F. Remondi cited ALEC’s work on model legislation dealing with student debt repayment as an incentive for belonging to ALEC. But representatives of Common Cause Delaware and student groups who spoke at this meeting noted that ALEC has also developed Voter ID laws which make it harder for students to vote, and model laws which would redirect funding from public to private schools.
“Sallie Mae is to be commended for making a clean break from ALEC and its questionable lobbying practices,” said Dee Durham, Campaign Manager for Common Cause Delaware. “Corporations who belong to ALEC are supporting the ALEC model of drafting bills but somehow claiming that this is not lobbying.”
In Delaware, Common Cause has also cited ALEC’s ability to avoid registering under the state’s lobbying law as a reason to strengthen the state’s disclosure requirements. According to “Open Delaware,” a Common Cause report published in 2011, Delaware’s lobbying law fails to capture an estimated 80%-90% of all lobbying expenditures because it does not require lobbyists to report how much compensation they receive from each of their clients.