New Report on ALEC in Oregon

For immediate release: February 29, 2012

For more information contact: Janice Thompson, 503-283-1922

One element in the February 29, 2012 Shut Down the Corporations event in Portland and many other cities across the country is exposing the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in our democracy.

Common Cause Oregon releases a report, American Legislative Exchange Council in Oregon: Campaign Contributions and Legislators that documents legislators in our state with ALEC affiliations. The report also analyzes $18.9 million to Oregon candidates, ballot measures, leadership and other political committees from ALEC affiliated corporations. (Download the report here.)

“ALEC demonstrates the depth of corporate influence in our democracy, to the detriment of the public interest,” said Janice Thompson, executive director of Common Cause Oregon.

ALEC opposes federal and state environmental regulations, the federal health care reform law, state minimum wage laws, and unions. ALEC’s agenda includes support for public subsidies for private schools, the development of privately-owned prisons, and restrictions on the voting rights. Much of ALEC’s work is conducted through nine task forces, each with two co-chairs, one a state legislator and one a corporate representative. Corporations provide most of the funding for ALEC and are major players in developing its political agenda, particularly through these task forces.

Also discussed in the report is a complaint filed by the national office of Common Cause asking the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to examine whether ALEC is engaged in lobbying that goes beyond what is allowed to groups in its tax-exempt category. “Oregon has a robust community of political nonprofits that play by the rules,” said Thompson. “A notable exception is Bill Sizemore’s fraudulent operation of several groups. Oregon doesn’t need any more sham nonprofits, so IRS scrutiny of allegations about ALEC is important.”

The report concludes with a discussion of two issues discussed during the 2012 Legislature of interest to two ALEC affiliated corporations, Union Pacific and Koch Industries.