American Legislative Exchange Council
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a politically conservative 501(c) (3) non-profit Policy Organization, consisting of both state legislators and members of the private sector
Private sector
In economics, the private sector is that part of the economy, sometimes referred to as the citizen sector, which is run by private individuals or groups, usually as a means of enterprise for profit, and is not controlled by the state...

. ALEC's mission statement
Mission statement
A mission statement is a statement of the purpose of a company or organization. The mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path, and guide decision-making...

 describes the organization's purpose as the advancement of free-market principles, limited government
Limited government
Limited government is a government which anything more than minimal governmental intervention in personal liberties and the economy is generally disallowed by law, usually in a written constitution. It is written in the United States Constitution in Article 1, Section 8...

, federalism
Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant with a governing representative head. The term "federalism" is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and...

, and individual liberty. Among other activities, the group provides a venue for private individuals and corporations to assist politicians in developing what it considers model laws serving the economic and political aims of its members. ALEC also serves as a networking tool among state legislators, allowing them to research the handling and best practices of policy in other states.

ALEC currently has more than 2,000 legislative members representing all 50 states, as well as more than 85 members of Congress and 14 sitting or former Governors who are considered alumni. ALEC also claims approximately 300 corporate, foundation, and other private-sector members. A list of ALEC leaders in the states includes 73 Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 lawmakers and 7 Democrats
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...


The chairmanship of ALEC is a rotating position, with a new legislator appointed to the position each year. The current chair of ALEC is Noble Ellington
Noble Ellington
Noble Edward Ellington, II , is a wealthy cotton merchant from Winnsboro, the seat of Franklin Parish in northeastern Louisiana, who is a freshman, and as of December 17, 2010, a Republican, member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from District 20...

 of the Louisiana House of Representatives
Louisiana House of Representatives
The Louisiana House of Representatives is the lower house in the Louisiana State Legislature, the state legislature of the US state of Louisiana. The House is composed of 105 Representatives, each of whom represents approximately 42,500 people . Members serve four-year terms with a term limit of...

. Day-to-day operations are run from ALEC's Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 office by an Executive Director and a staff of around 30.


ALEC was founded in September 1973, when a small group of conservative state legislators and policy advocates met in Chicago with the stated purpose of founding "A nonpartisan membership association for conservative state lawmakers who shared a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty."

At that meeting, state legislators, including then Illinois State Representative Henry Hyde
Henry Hyde
Henry John Hyde , an American politician, was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1975 to 2007, representing the 6th District of Illinois, an area of Chicago's northwestern suburbs which included O'Hare International Airport...

, activist Paul Weyrich
Paul Weyrich
Paul M. Weyrich was an American conservativepolitical activist and commentator, most notable as a figurehead of the New Right. He co-founded the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank and the Free Congress Foundation, another conservative think tank...

, and Lou Barnett, a veteran of then Gov.
Governor of California
The Governor of California is the chief executive of the California state government, whose responsibilities include making annual State of the State addresses to the California State Legislature, submitting the budget, and ensuring that state laws are enforced...

 Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

's 1968 presidential campaign
United States presidential election, 1968
The United States presidential election of 1968 was the 46th quadrennial United States presidential election. Coming four years after Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson won in a historic landslide, it saw Johnson forced out of the race and Republican Richard Nixon elected...

, together with a handful of others, launched the American Legislative Exchange Council. Among those who were involved with ALEC in its formative years were: Bob Kasten
Bob Kasten
Robert Walter "Bob" Kasten, Jr. , is a Republican politician from the state of Wisconsin who served as a U.S. Representative from 1975 to 1979 and as a U.S. Senator from 1981 to 1993.- Background :Kasten was born in Milwaukee...

 and Tommy Thompson
Tommy Thompson
Thomas George "Tommy" Thompson , a United States Republican politician, was the 42nd Governor of Wisconsin, after which he served as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Thompson was a candidate for the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election, but dropped out early after a poor performance in polls...

 of Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

; John Engler
John Engler
John Mathias Engler is an American politician and a member of the Republican Party. He served as the 46th Governor of Michigan from 1991 to 2003....

 of Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

; Terry Branstad of Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

, and John Kasich
John Kasich
John Richard Kasich is the 69th and current Governor of Ohio. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served as a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing from 1983 to 2001...

 of Ohio, all of whom moved on to become Republican governors or Members of Congress. Congressional members who were active during this same period included Republican Senators James Buckley
James Buckley
James Buckley may refer to:* James Buckley , English actor who stars in The Inbetweeners* James Buckley , Roman Catholic bishop of Geras...

 of New York and Jesse Helms
Jesse Helms
Jesse Alexander Helms, Jr. was a five-term Republican United States Senator from North Carolina who served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1995 to 2001...

 of North Carolina, as well as Republican Congressmen Phil Crane
Phil Crane
Philip Miller "Phil" Crane is a former American politician. He was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1969 to 2005, representing the 8th District of Illinois in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago...

 of Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 and Jack Kemp
Jack Kemp
Jack French Kemp was an American politician and a collegiate and professional football player. A Republican, he served as Housing Secretary in the administration of President George H. W. Bush from 1989 to 1993, having previously served nine terms as a congressman for Western New York's 31st...

 of New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...


ALEC policy-making process

ALEC sponsors three key meetings a year. The largest is the Annual Meeting, where more than 2,000 state legislators, private sector members, government representatives, and public policy experts come together to shape the organization's policies.

ALEC model bills are introduced and voted on separately at each of the three national meetings. The public sector board must approve a bill for it to become an offered piece model legislation.

There are currently eight task forces:
  • Civil Justice
  • Commerce, Insurance & Economic Development
  • Education
  • Energy, Environment & Agriculture
  • Health & Human Services
  • International Relations
  • Public Safety & Elections
  • Tax & Fiscal Policy
  • Telecommunications & Information Technology

ALEC's public sector Board of Directors has thirty days to review, and approve or reject, each bill before it becomes official ALEC policy. Each year approximately 800 bills based in whole or in part on ALEC model legislation are introduced in the states. Annually, about 20% of these introduced bills become law.

Since 1999, ALEC members have sought to reform the civil justice system.


  • ALEC publishes a monthly magazine for its members titled Inside ALEC.
  • In the field of education policy, ALEC authors the Report Card on American Education now in its 15th edition.
  • On state economic competitiveness, ALEC has published Rich States, Poor States now in its fourth edition.


After the NPR
NPR, formerly National Public Radio, is a privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 900 public radio stations in the United States. NPR was created in 1970, following congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting...

 report was published, ALEC released a statement responding to some of the accusations in the NPR story.

William Cronon

In March 2011, in the midst of protests surrounding Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's collective bargaining restrictions, William Cronon
William Cronon
William 'Bill' Cronon is the Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas Research Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison...

, a historian who teaches at the University of Wisconsin devoted the first post on his newly-established "Scholar as Citizen" blog to the largely behind-the-scenes role of the little-covered ALEC in working for the passage of ideologically conservative legislation at the state level, pointing out that neither the model legislation which ALEC produces, nor the list of elected officials who are members of ALEC are publicly available. This resulted in the issuing of a FOIA
FOIA stands for Freedom of Information Act and may refer to:*Freedom of information legislation Legislation granting freedom of information has been enacted around the world*Freedom of Information Act...

 request by the Wisconsin Republican Party to obtain all email from Cronon's university account relating to Republican topics; Paul Krugman
Paul Krugman
Paul Robin Krugman is an American economist, professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, Centenary Professor at the London School of Economics, and an op-ed columnist for The New York Times...

 and the American Historical Association
American Historical Association
The American Historical Association is the oldest and largest society of historians and professors of history in the United States. Founded in 1884, the association promotes historical studies, the teaching of history, and the preservation of and access to historical materials...

 defended Cronon's right to conduct public political research, and decried the apparent attempt at intimidation.

April 2011 Protests

On April 29, 2011, hundreds gathered in Cincinnati to protest ALEC for the first time outside the group's Spring Task Force Meeting, and to vocalize demands for legislation serving the public interest. Teach-ins, a rally, street theatre, and a march led to a second protest in New Orleans at ALEC's Annual Meeting, held on August 3–6, 2011.

Whistleblower and ALEC Exposed

On Jul 13, 2011, the Center for Media and Democracy
Center for Media and Democracy
The Center for Media and Democracy is a non-profit investigative reporting group. The CMD gives analysis and opinion on policies such as the economy, environment and national security...

 and the Nation published a file leak which made available more than 800 pieces of ALEC's model legislation, brought to them by an organizer of the Cincinnati ALEC protest. The files were leaked to the organizer, Aliya Rahman, via a two-point connection to a source inside ALEC.

For ALEC Exposed, the Center for Media and Democracy made a new website to house over 800 ALEC "model" bills which were previously unavailable to the public. It developed dozens of tools to enable citizens to track ALEC politicians,ALEC corporations and ALEC bills moving in their states.

Simultaneously, The Nation devoted a special edition of its magazine to breaking the story on ALEC Exposed, featuring expert analysis by John Nichols, Joel Rogers, Laura Dresser, Wendell Potter, Lisa Graves, Julie Underwood, Mike Elk, and Bob Sloan.

On July 14, 2011, the LA Times announced that government watchdog Common Cause
Common Cause
Common Cause is a self-described nonpartisan, nonprofit lobby and advocacy organization. It was founded in 1970 by John W. Gardner, a Republican former cabinet secretary under Lyndon Johnson, as a "citizens' lobby" with a mission focused on making U.S. political institutions more open and...

 would issue a challenge to ALEC's nonprofit status, on the grounds that ALEC "spends most of its resources lobbying, in violation of the rules governing nonprofit organizations."

On July 21, 2011, Terry Gross
Terry Gross
Terry Gross is the host and co-executive producer of Fresh Air, an interview format radio show produced by WHYY-FM in Philadelphia and distributed throughout the United States by National Public Radio....

 interviewed Louisiana Representative Noble Ellington
Noble Ellington
Noble Edward Ellington, II , is a wealthy cotton merchant from Winnsboro, the seat of Franklin Parish in northeastern Louisiana, who is a freshman, and as of December 17, 2010, a Republican, member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from District 20...

, the current national chairman of ALEC, about the group's corporate members' role in drafting legislation. Gross, commenting on the fact that there is no way for non-members to know if pieces of legislation introduced in statehouses are based on ALEC models, asked if Ellington thought the process was transparent. Ellington responded saying, "[w]hile we may be discussing it, it may not be transparent, but before it's passed, legislators have to say, 'We approve this model legislation.' Not the corporations. They don't have a vote. Legislators say [what is introduced]. ... And then the legislators can introduce that legislation in [their] state. It goes through a committee, the public has input, they have an opportunity to talk to their legislators about the legislation — so I don't see how you can get more transparent than that." When asked if the public had a voice in the process Ellington responded that the "taxpaying public is represented there at the table because I'm there."

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.