The Evils of ALEC: Corporate Influence and the Erosion of Democracy.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a secretive and influential organization that operates behind closed doors, bringing together corporate lobbyists and state legislators to draft and promote "model bills" that often serve corporate interests at the expense of the public. ALEC operates as a pay-to-play operation, where corporations buy a seat at the table and a vote on legislative priorities, effectively passing their lobbying costs onto taxpayers. This essay delves into the pernicious influence of ALEC on American politics, highlighting the corrosive effects of corporate donations that have corrupted the political system.

I. ALEC: A Powerful Corporate-Driven Organization

ALEC presents itself as a non-partisan, non-profit organization, but its activities tell a different story. It is a powerful entity where corporate lobbyists and state legislators collaborate on model bills that often prioritize corporate profits over the public interest. The legislative members of ALEC introduce these model bills in statehouses across the country, disguising their origins and failing to disclose that corporations played a significant role in crafting them.

A. Corporate Dominance

ALEC's governance structure allows corporations to sit on its task forces alongside legislators, where they have a "voice and a vote" on model legislation. While ALEC asserts that corporations don't vote on the board, their participation in the legislative process is undeniable. Corporations fund the majority of ALEC's operations, holding substantial sway over its agenda. This entanglement between corporations and legislators raises concerns about undue corporate influence on the legislative process.

B. Legislation as a Product

ALEC boasts about the sheer volume of model bills it produces, with over 1,000 introduced by legislative members each year, of which one in five becomes law. This assembly line of legislation, largely hidden from public view, raises questions about whether these bills genuinely reflect the interests and needs of the constituents these legislators are supposed to represent. Instead, they appear as products for sale to corporations seeking to advance their agenda.

II. Funding ALEC: The Corporate Connection

ALEC's financial structure further underscores the depth of its corporate entanglement. Over 98% of ALEC's funding comes from sources other than legislative dues, primarily corporations, corporate trade groups, and corporate foundations. Corporations pay annual fees ranging from $7,000 to $25,000, and additional fees if they participate in ALEC's task forces. Some of the biggest foundations funded by corporate CEOs, such as the Koch family's foundations, also contribute to ALEC.

This overwhelming corporate funding calls into question ALEC's independence and its ability to serve the public interest. The substantial financial support from corporations effectively turns ALEC into a tool for advancing corporate interests rather than a forum for unbiased policy discussion.

III. Lack of Bipartisanship: ALEC's Political Leanings

While ALEC claims to be non-partisan, the overwhelming majority of its members, speakers, and award recipients are aligned with conservative and right-wing ideologies. Prominent figures on the extreme right have been associated with ALEC, from Ronald Reagan and the Koch brothers to Vice President Mike Pence and former Speaker of the House John Boehner. The organization's political leanings are evident in its model bills, which often align with conservative policy priorities.

ALEC's lack of true bipartisanship raises concerns about its ability to represent the diverse interests of the American people. It effectively becomes a platform for advancing a particular political agenda, further eroding the democratic ideals of representative government.

IV. The Murky World of ALEC's Activities

Behind closed doors, ALEC operates in a manner that obscures its influence over legislation and allows it to avoid transparency and accountability.

A. Unelected Corporate Representatives

ALEC's task forces include unelected corporate representatives, often registered lobbyists, who collaborate with elected legislators as equals in shaping model legislation. This arrangement enables corporations to directly influence the drafting of bills that serve their interests.

B. Legislative Influence

Once legislators return to their states with ALEC-approved model bills, they become "super-lobbyists" for ALEC's corporate agenda. These legislators introduce and advocate for ALEC-backed bills without disclosing that corporations played a pivotal role in crafting them. This lack of transparency undermines the public's trust in the legislative process.

C. Potential Ethics Violations

ALEC's operating model raises ethical and legal concerns. In many states, legislators use public funds to attend ALEC meetings, raising questions about whether such expenses violate ethics laws. Additionally, the financial benefits legislators receive from ALEC, including free vacations, travel scholarships, and campaign fund reimbursements, may be considered gifts that should be subject to disclosure or disallowed under ethics regulations.

V. ALEC's Dubious Legal Status

ALEC's designation as a non-profit organization with a 501(c)(3) status allows it to maintain tax-exempt status while accepting grants from corporations, foundations, and other donors. However, given its extensive lobbying activities and facilitation of corporate influence over state legislation, ALEC's tax-exempt status raises concerns about whether it meets the criteria for a non-profit organization.


The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) represents a concerning intersection of corporate interests and political influence, undermining the principles of democracy and transparency. ALEC's secretive meetings, corporate dominance, and legislative influence have led to the creation of model bills that prioritize corporate profits over the public interest.

The financial support from corporations, the lack of bipartisanship, and the questionable ethical practices associated with ALEC raise fundamental questions about the integrity of the American political system. To restore faith in representative government and protect the democratic process, it is imperative to address the issues posed by ALEC's corrosive influence and the money gifts (disguised as donations) that have corrupted our political system.

Topic Related Merchandise

CEO's Are The Modern Monarchs T-Shirt | ZazzleIntroducing our Bold and Eye-Catching Design: "CEO's Are The Modern Monarchs – Vote Democratic For Worker Rights"! Are you ready to make a statement and champion the cause of worker rights? Look no further! Our captivating graphic encapsulates a powerful message that speaks to the heart of modern society. CEO's as Modern Monarchs: In a visual masterpiece, our design portrays the CEOs as regal rulers in a boardroom, adorned with opulent gold and red crowns. This thought-provoking imagery symbolizes the unchecked power and influence that some corporate entities wield in today's world. ❤️Embrace Change: Show your support for progress, equality, and the empowerment of workers by proudly displaying this design on a range of merchandise. From clothing and t-shirts that make a fashion statement to bumper stickers and cups that spark conversations, you can choose your favorite way to spread the message. Red Represents Change: The red hats and ties worn by board members represent the need for transformation. This isn't just about political affiliation; it's about embracing a shift towards a more equitable society where the rights and well-being of workers are upheld. 🗳️Vote Democratic: Our design encourages you to stand up for your beliefs and vote for change. By aligning with the Democratic party, you're supporting a vision where worker rights take center stage and corporate control is reined in. Be the Voice of Change: Whether you're donning our design on a hat, sipping from a cup with conviction, or proudly displaying a lawn sign, you're amplifying a vital message that deserves to be heard. Let your style reflect your values! Unite for a Better Future: This design is more than just an image – it's a call to action, a reminder that together, we can shape a society where every worker's voice is heard and respected. Join the movement for worker rights, equality, and progress. Let your choices reflect your commitment to change. Get your "CEO's Are The Modern Monarchs – Vote Democratic For Worker Rights" merchandise today and inspire conversation that matter.

Talking Points Information

Who Still Funds ALEC?