Business Group Helped Finance Walker and InvestedHeavily in Wisconsin Lawmakers
ALEC Member Companies Have Put at Least $1.3 Million into State Elections Since 2001
Corporate leaders of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a nationalalliance of businesses and conservative state officials that inspired much of Gov. Scott Walker’scontroversial legislative program, put nearly $100,000 into the governor’s campaign last year, part of a $1.3 million investment in Wisconsin elections since 2001, a report fromnationalCommon Causedetailed yesterday.Campaign finance records examined by the national
nonpartisan government watchdoggroup indicate that ALEC-affiliated firms, their executives, employees and political actioncommittees, also have aided the campaigns of some of Walker’s prominent legislative allies,including Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon), Senate Majority Leader ScottFitzgerald (R-Juneau), Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester)the two co-chairs of the powerful Joint Finance Committee.Led by such firms as Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Koch Industries, AT&T, Altria and ExxonMobil, ALEC has quietly made itself a force in all 50 state capitols, Common Cause said in anational report released Wednesday. Twenty-two firms represented on ALEC’s “privateenterprise board,” the organization’s corporate governing body, along with their executives,employees and political action committees, put more than $370 million into state elections from2001-10, the study found.The money has helped secure the election of thousands of state legislators and the passage nationwide each year of hundreds of ALEC’s “model” bills, jointly drafted by corporateexecutives and state lawmakers and often tailored to advance corporate interests over the publicinterest.ALEC’s influence has been felt particularly strongly in Wisconsin, according toresearchreleased last monthby the Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy. Key portions of Gov. Walker’s “ budget repair bill” closely track ALEC-drafted legislation, for example.Legislation sponsored by Sen. Darling to change the way moist tobacco products are taxed,amoney-saving change for tobacco giant and ALEC-member Altria, also can be traced to anALEC model bill, as can controversial voter ID legislation sponsored by Sen. Joseph Liebham(R-Sheboygan).At least 41 Wisconsin legislators currently are ALEC members, serving on ALEC task forces that develop legislation on issues ranging from tax policy to international relations, publicsafety, health, education and election laws, Common Cause said.