American Legislative Exchange Council
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a 501(c)(3) American organization, composed of politically conservative state legislators. According to its website, ALEC “works to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public.”
ALEC provides a forum for state legislators and private sector members to collaborate on model bills—draft legislation that members can customize for communities and introduce for debate in their own state legislatures. Approximately 200 such bills become law each year. ALEC has produced model bills on issues such as reducing corporate regulation and taxation, tightening voter identification rules, and promoting gun rights. ALEC also serves as a networking tool among state legislators, allowing them to research conservative policies implemented in other states.
Since 2011, ALEC’s political activities has received considerable scrutiny by both the media and liberal groups. The New York Times reported that special interests have “effectively turn[ed] ALEC’s lawmaker members into stealth lobbyists, providing them with talking points, signaling how they should vote and collaborating on bills affecting hundreds of issues like school vouchers and tobacco taxes.” Bloomberg Businessweek stated, “Part of ALEC’s mission is to present industry-backed legislation as grass-roots work.” The Guardian described ALEC as “a dating agency for Republican state legislators and big corporations, bringing them together to frame rightwing legislative agendas in the form of ‘model bills’.” Several liberal groups, including Common Cause, have challenged its tax-exempt status.