As new and returning state legislators were sworn in today, Progress Iowa asked them to opt-out of joining the American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC. In a letter sent to all Representatives and Senators, Progress Iowa offered congratulations on taking their oath, and explained how ALEC quietly interferes in state policy-making on behalf of corporate funders, and asked them to opt-out of joining the organization.
“Everyday Iowans don’t want to see their tax dollars promoting the agenda of out-of-state corporations,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “We want to know that the officials they elect will put Iowa values above those of special-interest lobbyists with a hidden agenda. That’s why our members are asking their state legislators to pledge to put their constituents first and opt-out of using taxpayer funds to join ALEC.”
Over the past few years, more light has been cast on the role ALEC has played in promoting controversial bills across the country. Legislation promoting voter suppression, “Stand Your Ground” laws, school privatization, and other ALEC proposals have been widely criticized in local and national media. As a result of ALEC’s new found infamy, 42 corporate funders, including McDonald’s, Kraft, and Coca-Cola withdrew their support. However, annual dues paid by Iowa legislators with taxpayer dollars continue to fund the organization’s lobbying efforts.
Within the letter, Progress Iowa asked legislators to answer a brief survey to confirm whether they would choose to reject membership in ALEC. Legislators who submit the confirmation will be invited to a brief press conference in the coming weeks to announce their choice and announce to their constituents that they’ve chosen to put Iowa values above those of ALEC.