3ALEC:GHOSTWRITING THE LAW FOR CORPORATE AMERICA
Few have ever heard o it, but the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, is the ultimate smoke-flled back room.On the surace, ALEC’s membership is mostly comprised o thousands o state legislators. Each pays anominal membership ee in order to attend ALEC retreats and receive model legislation. ALEC’s corporatecontributors, on the other hand, pay a king’s ransom to gain access to legislators and distribute theircorporate-crated legislation.So, while the membership appears to be public sector, the bankroll is almost entirely private sector. In act,public sector membership dues account or only around one percent o ALEC’s annual revenues. ALECclaims to be nonpartisan, but in act its ree-market, pro-business mission is clear. The result has been a consistent pipeline o special interest legislation being unneled into state capitols. Thanks to ALEC, 826 bills were introduced in the states in 2009 and 115 were enacted into law.Behind the scenes at ALEC, the nuts and bolts o lobbying and crating legislation is done by large corpo-rate deense frm Shook, Hardy & Bacon. A law frm with strong ties to the tobacco and pharmaceuticalindustries, it has long used ALEC’s ability to get a wide swath o state laws enacted to urther the interestso its corporate clients.ALEC’s campaigns and model legislation have run the gamut o issues, but all have either protected orpromoted a corporate revenue stream, oten at the expense o consumers. For example, ALEC has workedon behal o:
• Oil companies to undermine climate change proponents;• Pharmaceutical manuacturers, arguing that states should be banned rom importing prescription drugs;• Telecom frms to block local authorities rom oering cheap or ree municipally-owned broadband;• Insurance companies to prevent state insurance commissioners rom requiring insurers to meet strength-ened accounting and auditing rules;• Big banks, recommending that seniors be orced to give up their homes via reverse mortgages in order toreceive Medicaid;• The asbestos industry, trying to shut the courthouse door to Americans suering rom mesothelioma andother asbestos-related diseases; and,• Enron to deregulate the utility industries, which eventually caused the U.S. to lose what the Securities andExchange Commission (SEC) estimated as $5 trillion in market value.