What is ALEC? Why should moderates care?

ALEC stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council, and it is an extreme anti-government, pro-corporate think tank and policy organization. They are best known as the national organization that provides boilerplate legislation to their members (i.e., state legislators), who then introduce these "model" capitalism-at-all-cost bills at the state level. ALEC can not really be labeled as conservative because their policies are too risky, too radical. 

Why should you be concerned? Because ALEC has deep pockets, an extensive reach and they are changing the rules of the game - in Kansas and across the country. ALEC's mission is about profit. ALEC is not concerned about safety nets nor about investing in the common good.

What is ALEC? We know the broad strokes: political, for-profit, anti-government. ALEC activities are secret, their membership closed, their funding a mystery. The ALEC Exposed website, created to bring some transparency to ALEC's legislative influence, has a page on ALEC's positions on topics like education, voting rights, health care, women's rights, and the environment. Moderates will find something on that list to curdle their blood: http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/Fact_Sheets

Who is in ALEC? The ALEC organization is intensely private. An entire cottage industry of activists has sprung up to try to figure out membership lists from press releases, handouts, conference materials, legal documents and insiders. Membership rolls are closely guarded. Given the policy changes sweeping through states across the country, including Kansas, it is imperative that citizens know who is influencing our elections and elected officials. We are pulling together available data on ALEC members within the Kansas legislature. Watch for it this week.

Who funds ALEC? According to the Center for Media and Democracy's ALEC Exposed site, 96% of ALEC's funding comes from business interests, including Kansas' own Koch family's Koch Foundation, among others. CMD published an article in 2011 on ALEC funding that is a long read, but indicts the Koch's and others as the primary funding sources. Read it here: http://www.prwatch.org/news/2011/07/10887/cmd-special-report-alecs-funding-and-spending

What do they do that is so bad? Primarily, ALEC is responsible for writing and distributing to their members boilerplate legislation for introduction at the state and local level. This legislation, full of [Place State Name Here] placeholders, is the worst of cookie-cutter measures, broad, thoughtless ideological policy meant to move the needle for the extremists. That local legislators often do not even bother to read the legislation before introduction underscores ALEC's influence. This week, we intend to publish a post on some of the recent ALEC originating bills that made it to the Kansas Statehouse this session.

Learn more. In December of last year, the UK newspaper The Guardian published an article about ALEC that has a little history, and a lot of information about ALEC's current state. It is a good read: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/03/alec-funding-crisis-big-donors-trayvon-martin

Next in the Series >> How strong is ALEC in the Kansas Legislature?

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