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Posts Tagged ‘ALEC’

The Problem Of Corporate Influence In Iowa


Thanks to Matt Sinovic of Progress Iowa for his exemplary work monitoring ALEC’s activities in Iowa.

ALEC WATCH: New Report Details Corporate Influence in Iowa

By Progress Iowa

To take action or ask questions about ongoing ALEC activity in Iowa, contact Progress Iowa ALEC WATCH Hotline: (515) 428-1556 | Via email:

Progress Iowa Tuesday released ALEC WATCH, in an ongoing effort to expose the work of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and to empower Iowans to hold their elected leaders accountable.

Key findings in the report include:

In Iowa, Senator Ernst, Governor Branstad, and the state legislators serving in leadership positions in ALEC have received more than $563,000 in direct campaign donations from ALEC corporations. Due to the opaqueness of independent spending a complete total will never be known, but ALEC members spent more than $4.2 million in independent expenditures to elect Sen. Ernst.

 –  ALEC appears to be on the decline, but the organization continues to reinvent itself and adapt. Thanks to transparency efforts across the country, ALEC’s corporate membership may be on the decline. Leaked documents and public statements show that 100 corporate members have left ALEC, forcing a budget crisis for the organization. The corporate exodus has continued recently, with companies like Google, and eBay leaving. ALEC has responded by discussing moving to attract new corporate industries, and recently created an effort to influence local government officials en masse and advance ALEC’s agenda. The ALEC hotline and statewide educational effort will empower Iowans to play a more active role in their local government and stand up to the influence of ALEC.

–  ALEC distorted its membership figures to the public. Internal ALEC documents reported on in December of 2013 show that the organization considers all 150 Iowa legislators to be members, despite the public denial of membership by every Democratic member of the Iowa legislature. ALEC’s response to questions regarding membership was lacking, and response from Iowa leadership was nearly nonexistent. Because of these discrepancies and, ALEC’s efforts to influence legislators in Iowa is more opaque than any other state.

–  ALEC model bills continue to be introduced in the Iowa legislature. Progress Iowa identified at least nine bills with ALEC influence from the most recent legislative session. Bills to privatize education, weaken consumer standards, and the annual iterations of ALEC’s ‘stand your ground’ model were introduced.

ALEC continues to promulgate an aggressive agenda of deregulation and corporate cronyism. ALEC has shown indications that it will continue to advance its issues in Iowa and across the nation including the privatization of education, the erosion of consumer protections, rigging the courts, and attacking workers. Efforts like this report are the only means to track this influential organization.

ALEC WATCH was compiled by the staff of Progress Iowa, with assistance from a number of partner organizations and volunteers. The report relies on and would not be possible without research from ProgressNow, the Center for Media and Democracy, Common Cause, People For the American Way, the Iowa Policy Project, as well as other sources of public information. As information about ALEC in Iowa becomes available to the public, supplemental reports may be issued to offer a more complete picture of ALEC’s influence on our democratic process in the state legislature and across Iowa. View the full report below.

For additional information and further reading about ALEC, we recommend the following sources:

ALEC Exposed, produced by Center for Media and Democracy:
Blog for Iowa: All posts about ALEC:
Internal ALEC documents reported on by the Guardian in 2013, published at the 40th annual ALEC meeting in 2013:
Progress Report, the blog of Progress Iowa:
Common Cause’s posted ALEC documents:

Download the full report here:  ALEC Watch 

The Center For Media And Democracy Takes On The Carbon Kings

CMDMake friends with the Center for Media and Democracy because they are the #1 enemy of the Koch brothers and ALEC.   They have an amazing website that you will want to visit –  ALEC Exposed – where you can find ALEC model bills, ALEC politicians, ALEC state chairs, ALEC corporations, ALEC think tanks, boards, task forces, and much more.


“The biggest winners this election cycle are the billionaire Koch brothers who have now captured the Senate and the House in order to starve the state and cook the planet,” said NBC’s Brian Williams on election night.

Well, no. Williams didn’t say anything like that and neither did any other anchor in the main-stream media.

For honest reporting, for detailed tracking of the Carbon Kings and their minions, you need fiercely independent groups like CMD.

The day after the election, the incoming U.S. Senate leader Mitch McConnell declared that Republicans will use their new majority to bully the President into approving the Keystone XL pipeline and rolling back the EPA’s new rules limiting carbon releases from coal-fired power plants.

It is no accident that the entire U.S. Senate majority will now devote itself to the Koch agenda.

The Kochs are not just oligarchs; they are now a political party. Koch groups were projected to spend some $300 million this election cycle. For comparison, the DNC and RNC, combined spent $300 million.

To learn more, check out my colleague Mary Bottari’s article “The Koch Party Wins, Planet in Peril.” Check out Rebekah Wilce’s rundown of the pet politicians who will be working to implement the Koch agenda “ALEC Pols Moving Up in 2014 Midterms.” And let’s not forget Brendan Fischer’s in-depth work exposing money in politics and the criminal investigation of ALEC stalwart Scott Walker.

These are dark days, but the fight back is already underway. A few days ago CMD’s research director Nick Surgey discovered that ALEC’s corporate board chair is quitting the group over ALEC’s denial that climate change is happening and other issues, joining Google and a cluster of other tech firms, including AOL just this week. This brings to more than 90 the number of private sector firms that have stopped funding ALEC, since we launched ALECexposed and citizen groups across the country joined us in exposing ALEC and its funders..

ALEC will be doubling down on its reactionary agenda in 2015, but we will be hot on their trail.

Can you support our investigations with a generous donation today?

Thank you for all you do to help make the world a better place!


Lisa Graves
Executive Director
Center for Media and Democracy

Workers Earn Less In “Right To Work” States Like Iowa

AlecIowa is a so called “Right to Work” state.  Read this article excerpt to  discover what this really means and where these laws really come from, as Oregon is finding out now.   Learn more at

The editorial board of the Salem Statesmen Journal, one of the most influential newspapers in Oregon, is not messing around.

Their piece on the coming fight over making Oregon a so-called “right to work” state goes right to the point: this law is bad for Oregon, and the only reason we’re talking about it is because of deep-pocket out-of-state special interests[Note from BFIA: ALEC]

Don’t know what a “right to work” law is? The editorial kicks it off with a succinct definition:

Under right-to-work laws, employees in unionized workplaces no longer can be required to pay unions for the cost of being represented. That’s the sum and substance of right to work, in one sentence.

These laws, passed in 24 states, have nothing to do with protecting those who have a job from losing it or granting anyone who needs a job the right to find it. Yet the phrase persists, because political factions that back such legislation aren’t courageous or honest enough to call them what they are.

Right-to-work is a misnomer. If proponents were straight with us, they’d call these transparently vindictive efforts a “Right to Weaken Unions Act” or a “Right to Punish Those Who Oppose Us Measure.” The laws drain money from unions under the guise of creating a more business-friendly environment for states.

Here are some real facts to get you started:

  • States with “right to work” laws have lower average wages than free bargaining states. Workers earn an average of $1,500 less annually in “right to work” states.
  • Fewer workers have employer-based health insurance in “right to work” states. There are also higher rates of workplace injuries and fatalities in these states.
  • Research in favor of Oregon’s “right to work” initiative is deeply flawed (and funded by the same donors who are pushing the policy in the first place.)
  • Businesses don’t use “right to work” as a primary factor when deciding where to locate.

Learn more about “right to work” laws at

(click here to read the entire story)

Should Iowans Hear Gov. Branstad’s Speech to ALEC?

email inboxFrom Matt Sinovic of Progress Iowa, Aug. 5, 2013.

The Speech Gov. Terry Branstad Doesn’t Want You to Know About

Branstad to deliver private address this week at the annual meeting of ALEC, the “stealth corporate lobbyist” front group

DES MOINES– Governor Terry Branstad will deliver a featured address this week at the 40th annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). However, his speech to the controversial organization has not been publicized by the governor and is not listed on his public schedule.

“It’s no surprise that the governor wants to keep this a secret,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “The more the public learns about ALEC and their secretive influence in our legislature, the more controversial it becomes. But despite his desire for political cover, the governor should be inviting the public to participate in the democratic process, not attempting to deceive them.”

“The public has a right to know what the governor is saying to this controversial group, whether tax dollars are being spent on his trip to Chicago, and what other legislators are attending the meeting. Unfortunately, as a founding member, the governor has played a major role in ALEC’s 40-year effort to undermine democracy, and it appears he will continue those efforts this week.”

Branstad’s picture appears on the ALEC website as a featured speaker, with no date or time listed for the general public to attend. In the past, ALEC meetings have been closed to the general public despite the use of Iowa tax dollars for legislative memberships in the organization.

ALEC has received mounting criticism over the past year and a half, due to their promotion of legislation such as the “shoot first” laws that gained national attention after the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida. In Iowa, ALEC has provided model legislation to suppress voter rights, withdraw from regional environmental partnerships, and require intellectual diversity reporting from our college campuses.

Branstad is a founding member of ALEC, the group media has called a stealth corporate lobbyist for its secretive influence and extreme conservative agenda. Branstad received ALEC’s Pioneer Award in 1996 and has received more than $200,000 in campaign donations from ALEC’s corporate funders.

In March of this year, Progress Iowa released ALEC Exposed in Iowa, a report detailing the history and influence of the organization in our state. To read the full report, click here.

Pathetic Media Not Properly Conveying What ALEC Is

AlecNot only have the media not properly conveyed what ALEC really is if they do talk about it which is extremely rare, but they are also not mentioning ALEC when it would make perfect sense to.  Even the “liberal” media such as Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Melissa Harris-Perry, fail repeatedly to connect the dots to ALEC when discussing the phenomenon of voter ID laws being  introduced in Republican controlled states across the country.  In Iowa, Jason Noble covered a press conference held by ProgressIowa about ALEC’s involvement in Iowa but as far as we can tell, no journalist is mentioning ALEC while covering particular bills, such as loosening gun safety laws and voter ID just to name two.  Has any member of the Iowa media once mentioned Matt Schultz’s voter purge and ALEC in the same article?  Has any member of the Iowa media asked the SOS or Governor Branstad (founding member of ALEC), questions about ALEC and voter ID?  Has any member of the Iowa Press pressed GOP legislators about whether they might be attending  ALEC’s Spring Task Force Summit this weekend?  Democracy cannot survive without a functioning press.  Please watch. Please share.  More links and info below. 

What ALEC does is criminal, and it needs to be stopped. Please click on the links below for more information on how you can help:

Visit AlecExposed to view the model legislation and learn more about ALEC:

Sign a petition to get corporations out of ALEC:

Read here why ALEC should have its 501 c3 tax status revoked:

Go here for regular ALEC-related updates:

Ritz Carlton meeting –…

Stand Your Ground law-…

The ALEC scholarhip fund (an example):

ALEC corporate PAC spending:…

CCA, Russell Pearce, SB 1070 and ALEC:…

Fracking fluids, XTO, disclosure requirements and ALEC:…

Voter ID laws, other methods of disenfranchisement, the 5 million Americans and ALEC:…

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Professor Kliq
Leg Twitch


Report: ALEC Has Significant Influence Over Iowa Legislators

“Shoot First” ALEC Bill Comes To Iowa Legislature


Controversial “Stand Your Ground” Proposal Returns to Iowa

Rep. Matt Windschitl brings back controversial ALEC proposal one local prosecutor called the ‘license to kill’ statute

Des Moines, IA – Yesterday State Representative Matt Windschitl  [Note from BFIA: – whose family owns a gun store in Missouri Valley] introduced the controversial “Stand Your Ground” legislation, based on a model bill originally promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The bill, House File 57 (HF57), would allow Iowans to take a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ mentality that has been linked to increased homicide rates where it has been enacted. Rep. Windschitl proposed similar legislation last year, and may benefit from its passage as the proprietor of a gun store in Missouri Valley.

“Stand your ground laws are dangerous, and the research backs it up,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “We already have the right to defend ourselves; this goes far beyond that. In fact, one local prosecutor called it the ‘license to kill’ statute. We need our elected officials to focus on keeping our communities safe, creating jobs and strengthening our state, not putting us in harm’s way.”

“Stand Your Ground” legislation and ALEC gained increased exposure and infamy last year after the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida. In the aftermath of the shooting, ALEC lost more than 40 corporate sponsors and disbanded the task force responsible for promoting “Stand Your Ground.”

When the bill was proposed last year by Rep. Windschitl, Iowans reacted strongly in opposition. Although it passed the Iowa House of Representatives on February 29, 2012, it did not become law. Research now demonstrates that “Stand Your Ground” laws are linked with increased homicide.

HF57 is awaiting action before the House Judiciary Committee; track it by clicking here, and see the similarities to the original ALEC model legislation in the comparison below.

Progress Iowa is a statewide, non-partisan issue advocacy group made up of over 2,500 members promoting progressive values and working for a better and more just Iowa.



Eastern Iowa authorities against ‘stand your ground’

“A person already has the right to defend themselves or others, if needed,” said Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden. “The ‘stand your ground’ legislation goes far past that. I refer to it as the ‘license to kill’ statute, because that’s exactly what it does.”

House File 57:

Iowa Public Radio: ‘Stand Your Ground’ Linked to Increase in Homicides

House File 57 Comparison to ALEC legislation:


How Iowa Taxes Promote The Agenda Of Out-Of-State Corporations

ALECorIOWAWill Legislators Represent ALEC or Iowa?


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.

This Could Happen Here If Iowa GOP Are Allowed To Control State Government


[Note from BFIA:  Terry Branstad is a founding member of ALEC – –  “Among those who were involved with ALEC in its formative years were: Robert Kasten and Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin; John Engler of Michigan; Terry Branstad of Iowa, and John Kasich of Ohio, all of whom moved on to become governors or members of Congress.”]

Michigan Right to Work Law was the Brainchild of ALEC, the Most Dangerous Group in Politics

No sooner had the GOP secured total control of Michigan in 2010, holding majorities in both houses and winning the governorship, than the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing ultra-conservative “bill mill” and THE source of money and corruption in politics today, lept into action. ALEC wasted no time in sending many of their most onerous “model legislation” bills to Michigan. These included the Emergency Manager law, privatization of public schools, expansion of charter schools, HB 5221 (Voter ID Act), which required voters to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote, and HB 4305 with language similar to ALEC’s model “Immigration Law Enforcement Act.”

In fact, all of these proposed bills have language that is nearly identical to ALEC’s model legislation, most were introduced by ALEC member Rep. Dave Agema, co-sponsored by fellow ALEC members. ALEC member Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville sponsored legislation to allow concealed guns in schools, bars, hospitals and day care centers (passed, but vetoed by Governor Snyder).

The sponsor of gun legislation to allow concealed guns in schools, bars, hospitals, and day care centers was Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, one of 25 known Michigan ALEC members (Governor Snyder surprised everyone on December 18th by vetoing this legislation!)

As for the Right to Work (RTW) legislation, it wassponsored by multiple ALEC members:  House Bill 4054 by Rep. Tom McMillan and Rep. Peter Lund, and House Bill 4003, sponsored by McMillan and ALEC members Amanda Price, Aric Nesbitt, Kenneth Kurtz, Kenneth Horn and Judson Gilbert. There were no committee meetings or public hearings on RTW because the bill’s supporters used a practice allowed by Michigan law in a lame duck year, termed: “vehicle bills”(inserting language after first reading to create “substitution bills” – changes not available to the public or the opposition).

In Michigan, some key tactics used include: “immediate effect” of GOP legislation; extensive use of “vehicle bills” in the Lame Duck session, often provided by the Koch-funded Mackinac Center; and “legislation by amendment.” That this is done in the lame duck session is significant also because some 25% of those voting during this session will not be in the next legislature.

In the Senate, the RTW bill (S 116) was developed by Rep. Mike Shirkey and freshman Sen. Patrick Colbeck. The bill’s sponsor was Sen. Arlan B. Meekhof (R-30). Rep. Shirkey and  Meekhof are both documented ALEC members. This legislation mirrors ALEC’s “Right To Work Act,” written in 1995 and already passed in several states.

(click here to read the entire article)




ALEC: How Bad Public Policy Finds Friends In State Legislatures

A new report from the Iowa Policy Project and Good Jobs First is warning folks around the country to take note:  Ideas for bad public policy have friends in state legislatures, and Iowa is no exception.  Here’s what IPP sent out last week:

One purveyor of those bad ideas is a corporate-oriented outfit called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. That organization puts out a report annually called Rich States, Poor States, ranking states for their adherence to what ALEC likes to tell people are policies that promote growth. One problem: They don’t promote growth. And now Iowans and residents of other states have a research-based resource that will help them to sort fact from fiction when the traveling medicine show rolls into their state capitals.

That resource is the new report from IPP’s Peter Fisher and GJF’s Greg LeRoy and Philip Mattera, who dissect the ALEC report and not only expose its flawed methodology, but show what happens when you look at all 50 states and how well (or poorly) they actually do on important economic measures when they follow the ALEC formula.

The report by IPP and Good Jobs First is not an academic exercise; the Iowa General Assembly starts up again in January, and ideas about what’s ahead already are circulating. The report shows that when politicians are peddling tax cuts as a sure path to economic prosperity, it’s time to check the bottle for the ingredients. Snake oil is going to be at the top of the list.

Here are links to resources on the IPP website and blog:

Our news release:

A link to the full report (PDF):

Peter Fisher’s blog post on Iowa Policy Points:

An excerpt:

ALEC’s rankings are based on arguments and evidence that range from deeply flawed to nonexistent, consistently ignoring decades of peer-reviewed academic research.

What we know from research is that the composition of a state’s economy — whether it has disproportionate shares of high-growth or low-growth industries — is a far better predictor of a state’s relative success over the past five years. Public policy makers need to stick to the basics and recognize that public services that benefit all employers.

We are seeing a lot of attention from around the country, as we noted above. On Saturday, Bill Moyers posted about it on Facebook:

A new study shows that recommendations from ALEC, the pro-corporate organization we investigate in this week’s rebroadcast, have a negative impact on state economies.

Moyers also reposted an article in Mother Jones by Erika Eichelberger, who wrote our report about the ALEC rankings.

And other folks around the country are seeing the connections between ALEC and political proposals, and noting the IPP/GJF perspective. See these links:



Dayton Daily News:

Tulsa World:

Finally, if you agree that work like this is important to helping Iowans engage in the policy debates at our State Capitol, please consider a tax-deductible donation to the Iowa Policy Project. You can donate securely online at the link below. There’s no better way to greet the medicine show when it rolls into the capital city than with strong messages backed by good research in support of the investments that represent Iowa values.
20 E. Market St. • Iowa City, IA 52245
(319) 338-0773 •


[Note from BFIA editor:  See links to our previous posts about ALEC on Blog for Iowa below]

More info.

Iowa’s Voter Id Bill can be found here:

ALEC Exposed:

ALEC Voter ID Act Template:

American Legislative Exchange Council:

Previously on Blog for Iowa

Every member of the [Iowa] [update] House Republican delegation is a member of ALEC by virtue of not opting out of such membership. Membership dues are paid by the state, that is, by taxpayer money. 

All House Democrats have resigned membership in ALEC.

And directly from the page:

Terry Branstad, founding member of ALEC

To find more articles about ALEC on Blog for Iowa, click on the category “ALEC” in the left-hand sidebar.