ALEC conservatives reject charges of corporate cronyism

The American Legislative Exchange Council has found itself in the crosshairs of a national campaign from critics, but lawmakers attending the annual conference in Salt Lake City this week say they won’t be intimidated…

Twenty-five corporate sponsors have abandoned ALEC in recent months amid the public scrutiny, fueled by groups like Common Cause, the Center for Media and Democracy and others.

“Through ALEC, corporate lobbyists actually sit behind closed doors … and vote as equals with our elected representatives on model bills that change our rights,” Lisa Graves of the Center for Media and Democracy told a group of about 120 ALEC opponents gathered Wednesday.

Critics » Alliance For A Better Utah and others issued a report identifying 17 bills that were in many cases taken verbatim from the ALEC model legislation on topics and relying on ALEC ideas or principles on numerous other occasions.

The groups contend Utah is the “crown jewel” for ALEC legislation, seeking to erode public education, undermining organized labor, and benefiting corporations over the public interest.

“ALEC is the poster child for non-transparent political infrastructure that puts corporate profits ahead of the public interest,” said Common Cause President and CEO Bob Edgar, a former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania. “ALEC represents a pay-to-play system at its worst, a system where the most powerful corporations buy their way in.”

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