Alliance for a Better Utah and CMD file complaint against ALEC and ALEC Legislators

Complaint to Utah Lieutenant Governor alleges that ALEC illegally gave sophisticated voter management campaign software linked to the RNC worth $3,000 to its state chair, Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, its National Chairman, Sen. Stuart Adams, and other ALEC members. Similar complaints are being filed with the IRS and in 14 other states.

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 26, 2021

Salt Lake City, UT – Just days before ALEC’s annual meeting, this year hosted in Salt Lake City, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and Alliance for a Better Utah filed a campaign finance complaint with the Utah Lieutenant Governor today against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, and Sen. Stuart Adams for illegally giving and failing to report the receipt of valuable campaign software linked to the Republican National Committee (RNC). 

The software, dubbed “ALEC CARE” and valued by ALEC at $3,000 per legislator, is owned and operated by VoterGravity, a Republican voter data company conceived and run by Ned Ryun. Ryun is the founder and president of a right-wing candidate training operation, American Majority, and its voter mobilization affiliate, American Majority Action, which are closely allied with the Tea Party. American Majority Action’s latest available IRS filing shows that it owns 84 percent of Voter Gravity, and both list a post office box in Purcellville, Virginia as their address.

The full complaint can be viewed here and supporting exhibits can be viewed here.

“A thriving democracy’s authority comes from—and works for—the people,” said Chase Thomas, executive director for Alliance for a Better Utah. “ALEC is already known for obscuring the transparency the public needs to hold government accountable by providing spaces for politicians to rub elbows and produce legislation with special interests behind closed doors. If ALEC is also abusing its tax-exempt status to improperly give those same politicians tools to win elections, then it shows they’re now placing partisan interests over those of the people as well.” 

The complaint states, “As a benefit of their membership in ALEC, ALEC gave, and Sen. Fillmore and Sen. Adams received free sophisticated voter management and campaign software for the 2020 election cycle worth thousands of dollars, despite ALEC’s status as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation barred from engaging in electoral activity under federal law. Sen. Fillmore and Sen. Adams have not reported ALEC’s in-kind contribution on their campaign finance reports.”

The complaint asks the Lieutenant Governor to investigate the scheme and use its subpoena powers to determine the full list of ALEC state legislators receiving the voter software and whether the software was used by legislative staff on state time or in state offices.

By making the sophisticated partisan voter management and campaign software to its 2,000-plus members across the country, ALEC illegally provided in-kind campaign contributions worth more than $6 million in the 2020 election cycle, in violation of its 501(c)(3) charitable tax-status, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) charged in a separate submission to the IRS Whistleblower Office on July 20.

CMD and Common Cause are also filing campaign finance complaints with the appropriate oversight agencies in 14 other states.

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Alliance for a Better Utah is a nonprofit that holds politicians accountable and advocates for progressive policies that make Utah an even better place. The organization improves the lives of all Utahns through advocacy, transparency, and accountability in Utah politics, policy, and government. More information at www.betterutah.org.

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