The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group most have never heard of, happens to be one of the most powerful state lobbies in the entire country. And it's responsible for the some of the most pro-corporate, anti-consumer legislation to ever see the light of day.
On its surface, ALEC's membership is mostly comprised of thousands of state legislators. Each pays a nominal membership fee in order to attend ALEC retreats and receive model legislation. But don't be fooled - ALEC isn't working for the state legislators, but for the big corporations that provide the majority of its funding. These corporate contributors receive the best benefit of all - access to state legislators who help introduce legislation that will boost their profits at the expense of American workers and consumers.
ALEC's most recent venture has been trying to kill the recently passed healthcare legislation. Of course, ALEC did not write this legislation on its own - an ALEC executive admitted that insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield was bankrolling the campaign. This is just a sample of their common operate procedure.
ALEC's influence in state legislatures can be further demonstrated by its work on behalf of Crown, Cork & Seal - a company that bought Mundet Cork, a manufacturer of asbestos insulation, in full knowledge of the future liability of asbestos claimants. Even though Crown's own financial filings state that claims from asbestos victims will have no material adverse effects, they paid ALEC to persuade state legislatures to cap its liability, leaving thousands of injured workers without legal recourse. This legislation has already been enacted in several states, allowing Crown, Cork & Seal to escape accountability and increase profits at the expense of those sickened by asbestos exposure.
Few know much about ALEC or realize just how insidious its reach into lawmaking has become, yet for years they have been ghostwriting the law for corporate America at the expense of consumers. To learn more, read AAJ's full report on ALEC, Ghostwriting the Law for Corporate America.