New Report Exposes ALEC’s Influence in Texas

ALEC’s Texas legislative members and “model” bills revealed ahead of the corporate lobbying group holding their annual meeting in Austin this week

Just days before the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) annual meeting in Austin, Common Cause and the Center for Media and Democracy released a new report uncovering the recent influence of the secretive special interest lobbying group in the Texas legislature. ALEC is a national lobbying group that is holding its annual meeting in Austin, Texas from August 14th-16th. The organization is known for bringing state lawmakers and corporate lobbyists together in secret to draft and approve “model” bills on different issues, often benefiting its corporate donors’ bottom line.

“ALEC’s history of rigging the rules against everyday Texans on behalf of their corporate funders is not how democracy is supposed to work,” said Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of Common Cause Texas. “This report will help Texas voters understand who their legislature really works for and what special interests are behind some of the most harmful bills we’ve seen in recent years.”

The report reveals which members of the Texas legislature have ties to ALEC, which recent legislative bills can be traced back to the organization, and ALEC’s long history influencing Texas politics. Additionally, the report documents how ALEC abuses its public charity status with the IRS, effectively making its corporate donors eligible for tax breaks for its funding of ALEC.

“ALEC’s corporate pay-to-play lobbying scheme serves to hide special interest influence so the public never knows who writes the laws that affect our daily lives and environment,” said Arn Pearson, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). “We need to shine a light into the dark corners of policy making.”

In addition to releasing research and pressuring corporations and legislators to cut ties with ALEC, Common Cause and CMD have challenged ALEC’s tax-status as 501(c)(3) charity, where corporations are eligible for a tax-deduction for funding ALEC’s lobbying. Common Cause filed an IRS whistleblower complaint against ALEC in 2012, charging the organization with tax fraud, and supplemental complaints were filed in 2013, 2015, and 2016 filed by both organizations.

The release of the new report comes just days before ALEC holds its annual meeting in Texas, where legislators and lobbyists will meet behind closed doors to plan a national strategy to push ALEC’s agenda on workers’ rights, environmental & energy, healthcare, tax and budget issues, and telecommunications. Common Cause Texas will be joining other advocacy groups, including Progress Texas, Indivisible Austin, Texas AFL-CIO, United We Dream Texas, Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, Education Austin, and more, in an “Unwelcome Reception” for ALEC in Austin on Wednesday.

To view the “ALEC in Texas” report, click here.