American Legislative Exchange Council

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

Background

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is an organization designed to link state legislators with corporations and create templates for state legislation. Some corporations ALEC has worked with include Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, Peabody Energy, and Reynolds Tobacco

ALEC describes its mission as to “advance limited government, free markets, and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public.” [2]

An investigation by the Center for Media and Democracy hosted at ALECExposed.org offers the following description of the organization: 

ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve 'model' bills.

They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills.” [1]

ALEC maintains “Task Forces” in the following areas: [3]

  • Civil Justice
  • Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development
  • Communications and Technology
  • Education and Workforce Development
  • Energy, Environment and Agriculture
  • Federalism and International Relations
  • Health and Human Services
  • Justice Performance Project
  • Tax and Fiscal Policy
  • *Public Safety and Elections task force (since disbanded[4]

A Brookings Institution study looked at a sample of 132 ALEC model bills that were introduced during the 2012 legislative season. Republicans sponsored over 90 percent of them. Their study found that the ALEC bills’ likelihood of passing was “strikingly high compared to the dismal rate at which all other bills are enacted into law.” [5]

In 2013, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) found at least 77 ALEC bills that year opposing renewable energy standards, supporting fracking and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, or otherwise undermining environmental laws. [54]

ALEC also has a history of working with tobacco companies, and has helped provide tobacco-industry representatives face-to-face access to federal elected officials. [6]

Stance on Climate Change

ALEC has released an official position statement on renewables and climate change: [7]

Climate change is a historical phenomenon and the debate will continue on the significance of natural and anthropogenic contributions. ALEC will continue to monitor the issue and support the use of sound science to guide policy, but ALEC will also incorporate economic and political realism. Unilateral efforts by the United States or regions within the United States will not significantly decrease carbon emissions globally, and international efforts to decrease emissions have proven politically infeasible and unenforceable. Policymakers in most cases are not willing to inflict economic harm on their citizens with no real benefit. ALEC discourages impractical visionary goals that ignore economic reality, and that will not be met without serious consequences for worldwide standard of living.

The following is taken from ALEC's model bill for “Energy Principles” (PDF):

Global Climate Change is Inevitable. Climate change is a historical phenomenon and the debate will continue on the significance of natural and anthropogenic contributions. ALEC will continue to monitor the issue and support the use of sound science. Regardless, the economy is becoming more energy efficient. Each year we emit less carbon dioxide per dollar of economic output. In fact, carbon dioxide emissions per dollar of GDP declined 41.3 percent between 1981 and 2005. This impressive improvement has taken place without greenhouse gas emissions regulations or taxes. [8]

Sandy Liddy Bourne, representing ALEC, said in 2004: “Carbon dioxide, the inescapable by-product of burning fossil fuels, is beneficial to plant and human life alike. The effort to regulate it as a greenhouse gas is an attempt to tax energy.” [9]

After Google parted ways with ALEC due to its inaction on climate change, the group refuted allegations that it denies climate change, saying: “ALEC recognizes that climate change is an important issue,” and “no ALEC model policy denies climate change.”  [10], [11]

ALEC Conferences

ALEC hosts conferences three times a year where they frequently invite prominent climate change skeptics.

Here are a few samples highlighted by AlecClimateChangeDenial.org, a joint project of the Centre for Media and Democracy, Forecast the Facts, and the Energy and Public Policy Institute: [48]

  • Joe Bast: “There is no scientific consensus on the human role in climate change.” ALEC Annual Meeting, Dallas, Texas August, 2014

  • Craig Idso:CO2 is not a pollutant. It is a benefit. It is the very elixir of life.” ALEC Conference, December 2014 

  • Marc Morano: “The idea that there is a “scientific consensus” [on climate change] does not hold up.” ALEC Annual Meeting, Dallas, Texas August, 2014

  • Christopher Monckton: “The science [of climate change] is bad, the consensus is wrong.” ALEC Annual Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia July, 2009

  • Lisa Nelson (ALEC CEO): Asked if she accepts CO2 emissions are the primary driver of climate change: “I don't know the science on that.” Interview with National Journal, published October 2, 2014.

  • Phil King (ALEC Board member): “I think the global warming theory is bad science.” TX House of Representatives Website, January, 2007.

  • John Piscopo (ALEC Board member): “The public has been hoodwinked…I have serious doubts about whether [climate change] is man made.” Connecticut Post, March, 2010.

Funding

The Centre for Media and Democracy (CMD) notes that since the 2011 launch of the website ALECExposed.org, many corporations have left and publicly distanced themselves from ALEC, including General Motors, Walgreens, Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart, Amazon, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and GE.  [4]
Since CMD launched their ALEC Exposed investigation in 2011, 108 corporations and 19 non-profits have left ALEC, including BP, Shell, Visa, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, McDonald's, and Google (now Alphabet). Documents obtained by CMD found that ALEC had received at least $504,700 from Koch Industries between 1995 and 1998, adding up to nearly $1 million from Koch-Controlled Foundations between 1998 and 2012. CMD additionally found that the tobacco conglomerate Philip Morris/Altria gave ALEC $1,426,700 between 1995 and 2010. [56], [61]
 
While ALEC does not publicly disclose its funding sources, the Conservative Transparency project was able to collect information from publicly-available 990 forms. Note that not all of the following funding values have been verified by DeSmogBlog for accuracy.

See the attached spreadsheet for additional information on ALEC funding by year (.xlsx). [57]

ALEC as Recipient

Allegheny Foundation $1,870,000
Exxon Mobil $1,534,700
PhRMA $993,217
Searle Freedom Trust $820,000
Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation $720,000
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation $700,598
Castle Rock Foundation $650,000
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation $573,000
Jaquelin Hume Foundation $270,000
Friedman Foundation For Educational Choice $248,000
John M. Olin Foundation $215,000
Donors Capital Fund $178,000
JM Foundation $135,000
American Petroleum Institute $88,000
The Randolph Foundation $75,000
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation $75,000
CIGNA Foundation $55,000
Scaife Family Foundation $50,000
Armstrong Foundation $45,000
The Roe Foundation $29,500
The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation $28,500
DonorsTrust $25,000
eBay $12,000
MyWireless.org $10,000
Joyce and Donald Rumsfeld Foundation $7,000
The Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation $7,000
Grand Total $9,414,515

ALEC as Donor

State Policy Network
2012 $10,000
2013 $5,000
DonorsTrust
2013 $12,500
Grand Total $27,500

ExxonMobil Funding

According to data from Greenpeace's ExxonSecrets, ALEC has received $1,619,700 from ExxonMobil since 1998[12]

Koch Funding

Greenpeace investigations notes that ALEC received $525,858 from Koch foundations between 2005 and 2011, with a grand total of $858,858 from Koch foundations between 1997 and 2011[13]

Alpha Natural Resources Creditor

Alpha Natural Resources, one of the largest coal companies in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy in August of 2015. The American Legislative Exchange Council was among the Alpha Natural Resources creditors revealed in the bankruptcy documents. Others included organizations active in climate change denial such as the Heartland Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Energy & Environmental Legal Institute (E&E Legal). [60]

Nonprofit Status

While ALEC is registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the IRS, making donations tax-deductible, Common Cause, Clergy Voice, the Voters Legislative Transparency Project, and the Center for Media and Democracy/Progressive Inc. (CMD) have alleged that ALEC repeatedly violated federal law and should have its nonprofit status revoked. [56]
In 2013, ALEC began adding a disclaimer to the bottom of all its documents stating: “Because this is an internal ALEC document, ALEC believes it is not subject to disclosure under any state Freedom of Information or Public Records Act,” which CMD speculated could be an attempt to sidestep state public records laws. [4]
ALEC dropped this disclaimer after CMD's successful open records lawsuit against its national board member and Wisconsin State Senator Leah Vukmir.  [55]
“The case shows that legislators who deny open records requests and seek refuge behind improbable claims of immunity will be held accountable by the public, the media and the legal system,” said Brendan Fischer, General Counsel for the Center for Media and Democracy.

990 Forms

Key People

Board Members

Name 2012[22] 2015[14] 2016[69] Description
Rep. Alan Clemmons Y Y Wisconsin Senate
Rep. Blair Thoreson Y Y Indiana Senate
Rep. Curry Todd Y Y Y Utah Senate
Rep. David Frizzell Y Y Oklahoma House of Representatives
Rep. Dawn Pettengill Y Y Texas House of Representatives
Rep. Gary Banz Y Y California Senate
Rep. Harold Brubaker Y Y Y Colorado Senate
Rep. Jason Saine Y Y South Carolina House
Rep. John Piscopo Y Y Y Maine Senate
Rep. Noble Ellington Y Y Y Indiana House
Rep. Norine Kasperik Y Y Mississippi House
Rep. Phil King Y Y Georgia Senate
Rep. Tom Craddick Y Y Y Virginia House of Representatives
Sen. Andre E. Cushing, III Y Wyoming House
Sen. Bill L. Cadman Y Kansas House
Sen. Bill Seitz Y Y Iowa House of Representatives. Also past Co-Chair of Civil Justice Task Force. [15]
Sen. Jim Buck Y Y Y Connecticut House
Sen. Joel C. Anderson Y North Carolina House
Sen. Judson Hill Y Y Ohio Senate
Sen. Leah Vukmir Y Y North Dakota House
Sen. Susan Wagle Y Y Y Tennessee House
Sen. Wayne Niederhauser Y Y Kansas Senate
Speaker Bill Howell Y Y Y Iowa House
Speaker Linda Upmeyer Y North Carolina House of Representatives
Speaker Philip Gunn Y Texas House of Representatives
Speaker Ray Merrick Y Y Louisiana House of Representatives
Rep. Linda Upmeyer Y Y Immediate Past Chair (Iowa)
Sen. Steve Faris Y Chair Emeritus (Arkansas)
Rep. Bobby Hogue Y Chair Emeritus (Arkansas)
Rep. Dolores Mertz Y Chair Emeritus (Iowa)
Sen. Joel Anderson Y Board Member (California)
Sen. Bill Cadman Y Board Member (Colorado)
Sen. Andre Cushing Y Board Member (Maine)
Rep. Philip Gunn Y Board Member (Mississippi)
Rep. Joe Harrison Y Board Member (Louisiana)
Rep. Fred Steen II Y
Rep. Dave Frizzell Y 2012 National Chairman.
Rep. Liston Barfield Y Secretary.
Sen. Curt Bramble Y
Sen. Kent Cravens Y
Rep. Jim Ellington Y
Sen. Billy Hewes III Y
Sen. Owen Johnson Y
Sen. Michael Lamoureux Y
Rep. Steve McDaniel Y
Sen. Ray Merrick Y
Sen. Dean Rhoads Y
Sen. Chip Rogers Y
Sen. William Seitz Y

Board of Scholars

Name 2012[23] 2015[16] 2016[69] Description
Bob Williams Y Y Y State Budget Solutions.  Founder and Senior Fellow, Evergreen Freedom Foundation
Dr. Arthur B. Laffer Y Y Y Founder and chairman of Laffer Associates. Co-chair of the policy council for the Free Enterprise Fund (FEF).
Dr. Richard Vedder Y Y Y Ohio University
Rob Natelson Y Senior fellow, Independence Institute.
Stephen Moore Y Senior economics writer, The Wall Street Journal. Past founder and president of the Club for Growth.
Victor Schwartz Y Y Y Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP

Private Enterprise Advisory Council

Name 2012[25] 2015[17] 2016[69] Description
Bill Leahy Y Y Y AT&T
Bob Williams Y Y State Budget Solutions
Chip Rogers Y Y Asian American Hotel Owners Association
Cynthia Bergman Y Y Exxon Mobil Corporation
Daniel Smith Y Y Y Altria Client Services
Don Lee Y Y K12 Inc.
Frayda Levin Y
Jeff Bond Y Y PhRMA
Jennifer Colman Y Automotive Trade Association Executives
Josh Brown Y Y Pfizer Inc.
Kelly Mader Y Y Y Lobbyist for Peabody Energy [18]
Kenneth Lane Y Y Y Diageo North America, Inc.
Marianne Eterno Y Y Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Company
Michael Blank Y Peabody Energy
Michael Morgan Y Y Y Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC
Pat Thomas Y Y United Parcel Service
Roland Spies Y Y Y State Farm Insurance Companies
Sano Blocker Y Y Y Energy Future Holdings
Stephen Moore Y Y
Steve DelBianco Y NetChoice
Steve Woods Y Y National Federation of Independent Business
William Carmichael Y Y Y American Bail Coalition
W. Preston Baldwin Y Centerpoint360.
Sandra Oliver Y Bayer Corp.
John Del Giorno Y GlaxoSmithKline.
David Powers Y Reynolds American.
Maggie Sans Y Wal-Mart Stores.
Jerry Watson Y
Don Bohn Y Johnson & Johnson.
Jeffrey Bond Y PhRMA.
Derek Crawford Y Kraft Foods, Inc.
Robert Jones Y Pfizer Inc.
Teresa Jennings Y Reed Elsevier, Inc.
Richard McArdle Y UPS.
Gene Rackley Y Coca-Cola Refreshments.
Randy Smith Y ExxonMobil Corporation.
Russell Smoldon Y Salt River Project.
Steve Del Bianco Y NetChoice

Staff

Name 2012[24] 2015[19] 2016[70] Description
Bob Williams Y
Lisa B. Nelson Y Y Chief Executive Officer. Former lobbyist for VISA and AOL Time Warner. Also worked for Newt Gingrich and GOPAC.  [20], [21]
Amy Kjose Anderson Y Y Director, Civil Justice Task Force
Michael Bowman Y Y Y Vice President, Policy
Bartlett Cleland Y Y Vice President, Center for Innovation and Technology
Seth Cooper Y Y Amicus Counsel 
John Eick Y Y Director, Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force
William Freeland Y Research Analyst, Task Force on Tax and Fiscal Policy
Jonathon Hauenschild Y Y Director, Communications and Technology Task Force
Brian Hawkins Y Y Policy Coordinator
Michael Hough Y Y Director, Task Force on Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development and Justice Performance Project
Karla Jones Y Y Y Director, International Relations and Federalism Task Force
Theodore Lafferty Y Legal Research Analyst, Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force
Jon Russell Y Director, American City County Exchange
Lindsay Russell Y Director, Task Force on Education
Kati Siconolfi Y Y Y Legislative Manager, Center for State Fiscal Reform
Daniel Turner Y Y Legislative Analyst, Education and Workforce Development Task Force
Jonathan Williams Y Y Y Vice President, Center for State Fiscal Reform
Ben Wilterdink Y Y Director, Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development
Bill Meierling Y Y Vice President, Public Affairs
Christine Phipps Y Y Director, Art and Creative
Ashley Varner Y Y Senior Director, Strategic Communications
Molly Fuhs Y Director, Media and Public Relations
Shana Sally Y Y Coordinator, Media and Public Affairs
Rek LeCounte Y Y Manager, Digital Media
Jeff Lambert Y Y Vice President, Member Relations
Sarah McManamon Y Director, Events
Marie Vulaj Y Y Senior Director, Nonprofit and Corporate Relations
Laurel Buckley Y Y Director, Development
Courtney Cook Y Y Director, Events
Spencer Chretien Y Y Coordinator, Membership
Alex McGee Y Development Coordinator
Lisa Bowen Y Y Vice President, Finance and Administration
Genneya Briscoe Y Y Director of Employee Relations, Finance and Administration
Jose ‘Pepe’ Fernandez Y Office Manager
Jimmy Wall Y Executive Assistant to the CEO
Ron Scheberle Y Executive Director since January, 2010.
Meaghan Archer Y Research Analyst, Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force.
Christine Harbin Y Research Manager, Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force.
Christie Herrera Y Director, Health and Human Services Task Force.
Amy Kjose Y Director, Civil Justice Task Force.
Stephanie Linn Y Policy and Intern Manager.
David Myslinski Y Director, Education Task Force.
Courtney O’Brien Y Director, Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development & Public Safety and Elections Task Forces.
Sean Riley Y Legislative Analyst, Health and Human Services Task Force.
John Stephenson Y Director, Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force.
Cara Sullivan Y Legislative Analyst, Public Safety and Elections Task Force.
Kailee Tkacz Y Research Analyst, Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force.
Bryan Weynand Y Legislative Analyst, Civil Justice Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Forces.
Todd Wynn Y Director, Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force.
Wes Fisher Y Coordinator, Development
Nathan Brinkman Y Communications Coordinator, Center for State Fiscal Reform
Molly Drenkard Y Director, Media Relations and Public Affairs
Inez Feltscher Y Director, Education and Workforce Development Task Force
Jose Fernandez Y Office Manager
Mia Heck Y Director, Health and Human Services Task Force
Joe Horvath Y Analyst, Tax and Fiscal Policy
Montana Hyde Y Executive Assistant, Office of the CEO
Ted Lafferty Y Legal Research Analyst, Tax and Fiscal Policy
Ronnie Lampard Y Director, Criminal Justice Reform Task Force
Hon. Jon Russell Y Director, American City County Exchange
Lacey White Y Coordinator, Events

Other People (2004)

Media Coverage on ALEC

May 21 2015 edition of WXIA-TV's 11 Alive News Tonight

11 Alive investigators examined ALEC's status as a nonprofit versus what former a ALEC member describes as a “corporate bill mill.” Video below. [46], [47]

United States of ALEC — A Viewers Guide (June, 2014)

The Moyers and Company television program aired on public television stations, relying heavily on research by the Center for Media and Democracy's ALEC Exposed project, as well as first-hand interviews. [49], [50]

Video below. (View transcript here). 

United States of ALEC: A Follow-Up from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Actions

July 12, 2016

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), represented by Lisa B. Nelson, was among 22 groups represented in a “Coalition” open letter pushing back against what the Heartland Institute describes as an “affront to free speech.” The groups are responding to the recent Web of Denial Resolution brought up in the Senate, calling out fossil fuel industry-funded groups denying climate change. [71]

According to the Climate Investigations Center, all but one of the open letter's signatory organizations have taken money (totalling at least $92 million since 1997) from the “climate denial web” including Koch Brothers' various foundations, ExxonMobil, and two “Dark Money” organizations, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund. [74]

Championed by Senators Whitehouse, Markey, Schatz, Boxer, Merkley, Warren, Sanders, and Franken, the resolution condemns what they are calling the #WebOfDenial — “interconnected groups – funded by the Koch brothers, major fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal, identity-scrubbing groups like Donors Trust and Donors Capital, and their allies – developed and executed a massive campaign to deceive the public about climate change to halt climate action and protect their bottom lines.” [72]

The open letter addresses the senators, calling them “tyrants”: 

“We hear you. Your threat is clear: There is a heavy and inconvenient cost to disagreeing with you. Calls for debate will be met with political retribution. That’s called tyranny. And, we reject it.” [73]

The full list of signatories and their respective organizations is as follows:

June 13, 2016

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD/PRWatch) reports the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was named as a creditor in Peabody Energy's recent bankruptcy filings.  Additionally, the documents list funding a number of ALEC events including the following: [63]

  • ALEC Arkansas State Scholarship Fund
  • ALEC Colorado State Scholarship Fund
  • ALEC Illinois State Scholarship Fund
  • ALEC Indiana State Scholarship Fund
  • ALEC Missouri State Scholarship Fund
  • ALEC Montana State Scholarship Fund
  • ALEC New Mexico State Scholarship Fund
  • ALEC Scholarship Fund-Arizona
  • ALEC Texas State Scholarship
  • ALEC Wyoming Scholarship Fund
  • ALEC-MO Night

While the available bankruptcy documents do not list the scale or dates of funding, they outline Peabody Energy's financial ties to a large network of groups promoting climate change denial. [64]

Prominent individuals appearing in the documents include climate deniers Willie SoonRichard LindzenRoy Spencer and Richard Berman. The long list of organizations also includes groups such as Americans for ProsperityAmerican Legislative Exchange CouncilCFACTInstitute for Energy ResearchState Policy Network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and dozens more. [65]

The Guardian also analysed and reported on the Peabody bankruptcy findings: [66]

These groups collectively are the heart and soul of climate denial,” said Kert Davies, founder of the Climate Investigation Center, who has spent 20 years tracking funding for climate denial. “It’s the broadest list I have seen of one company funding so many nodes in the denial machine.”

The company’s filings reveal funding for a range of organisations which have fought Barack Obama’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and denied the very existence of climate change. […]

Among Peabody’s beneficiaries, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change has insisted – wrongly – that carbon emissions are not a threat but “the elixir of life” while the American Legislative Exchange Council is trying to overturn Environmental Protection Agency rules cutting emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity campaigns against carbon pricing. The Oklahoma chapter was on the list. […]

The breadth of the groups with financial ties to Peabody is extraordinary. Thinktanks, litigation groups, climate scientists, political organisations, dozens of organisations blocking action on climate all receiving funding from the coal industry,” said Nick Surgey, director of research for the Center for Media and Democracy.

We expected to see some denial money, but it looks like Peabody is the treasury for a very substantial part of the climate denial movement.”

Notable organizations listed in the initial documents include:

Notable individuals named in the initial documents include the following:

June, 2016

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was among organizations named in a Massachusetts subpoena looking for communications between ExxonMobil and organizations denying climate change, reports The Washington Times. [67]

Organizations named in the Massachusetts subpoena include the following: [67]

This latest inquiry by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is one in a series of investigations into what ExxonMobil knew about climate change and when, started by a coalition of attorneys general in the US. [68]

March 24, 2016

The Sierra Club Virginia Chapter and Center for Media and Democracy released a report detailing ALEC's attempts to delay action on climate change in Virginia. The report, AMERICAN LEGISLATIVE EXCHANGE COUNCIL (ALEC) EXPOSED: Corporate Polluters Undermining Clean Power in Virginia” (PDF) details how ALEC and its political allies have worked to combat state climate and clean energy policy. [58], [59]

The report focuses on ALEC's attempts to stop the Clean Power Plan, which set out to cut carbon emissions from power plants by 32% over 2005 levels. [58]

“I was pleased that during the 2016 General Assembly session we were able—at least so far—to fend off ALEC’s attempt to derail Virginia’s plan to curb emissions and comply with the Clean Power Plan,” said Virginia Delegate Rip Sullivan (D-48). “It is disappointing and troubling, though, that ALEC-inspired HB2 and SB21 passed the General Assembly–thankfully not by veto-proof majorities.  Virginia should be leading the way on clean energy, but sadly, we lag far behind.  I will continue to work hard to push for meaningful progress, moving Virginia toward a new clean energy economy.”[58]

Seth Heald, chair of the Seirra Club Virginia Chapter, notes that corporations “simply cannot be serious about reducing carbon pollution and addressing climate change while also supporting ALEC.” [58]

August, 2015

Royal Dutch Shell announced it would sever ties with ALEC due to the group's “continued denial of the science of climate change,” The Guardian reported.
Shell released a statement, saying that “Alec advocates for specific economic growth initiatives, but its stance on climate change is clearly inconsistent with our own.” [26]
In a previous interview with the Guardian in May, a Shell spokesman said: “We have long recognized both the importance of the climate challenge and the critical role energy has in determining quality of life for people across the world. As part of an ongoing review of memberships and affiliations, we will be letting our association with Alec lapse when the current contracted term ends early next year.” [27]
Shell isn't the first oil company to sever its ALEC ties. British Petroleum (BP) also joined the list of companies leaving ALEC's ranks, severing ties in May 2015.  Other companies to leave ALEC since 2014 include Google, Yahoo, Facebook, eBay and Yelp — all in the face of criticism over ALEC's climate change views.
BP’s exit came a few months after Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) announced it would depart from ALEC, and a year after ConocoPhillips, an American multinational energy corporation, did the same. Shell is the fourth to leave ALEC. [28]
July, 2015
At a July 2015 meeting in San Diego, ALEC’s energy committee — which includes Mr. Mike Duncan, the president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (One of the nation's top coal lobbying groups) — enacted a model bill designed to directly support state attorneys general who legally challenge President Obama's climate change plan. 
The bill would allow states to create funds, which could be funded by corporate donations, to support legal challenges to the climate change rules. In early 2014, shortly after Obama announced regulations at the White House, West Virginia’s attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, announced that a group of at least 15 Republican state attorneys general were preparing a joint legal challenge to the proposal. 
Opposition at the time came from a group headed in part by Roger R. Martella Jr., a top environmental official in the George W. Bush administration, and Peter Glaser, a prominent Washington lobbyist, as reported by the New York Times. The NY Times describes ALEC as an “Important Ally in the effort.” [29]
May 13, 2015
The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and Common Cause filed an 18-page supplemental complaint to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) calling for the termination of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)'s status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and requesting civil and criminal charges be brought against ALEC. [43]
The complaint included more than 220 pages of evidence demonstrating how ALEC operates more like a “corporate bill mill” than it does a 501(c)(3) organization. It was an update to an original complaint that Common Cause made in 2012, as well as a 2013 supplement added by CMD and Common Cause. [44]
Among the exhibits cited in the supplement are examples of corporations themselves admitting that ALEC serves as a useful lobbying tool. Those on the list of corporations include Chevron, BP, ExxonMobil, Duke Energy and Peabody Energy.
The IRS supplemental complaint also points to a Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board investigation published in February 2015 concluding that ALEC's “primary purpose” is to bring together legislators and lobbyists. [45]
May, 2015
As reported by the Center for Media and Democracy's (CMDPR Watch, ALEC's 2015 annual meeting was supported primarily by energy companies and their supporters. [30]
Of the 54 identified corporate sponsors, twenty-two are energy related firms, their front groups, or firms representing energy interests. 
On the agenda of ALEC's closed-door Energy, Environment, and Agriculture task force meeting is a model “Environmental Impact Litigation Act” that would allow companies to pay into a fund for the state to sue against environmental laws including the Clean Air Act. 
The CMD listed financial underwriters of the ALEC event as the following (*Asterisks indicating membership on ALEC’s corporate board of directors):
President's Level - $100,000
Chair's Level - $50,000
Vice Chair's Level - $25,000
Director's Level - $10,000
Trustee's Level - $5,000
  • Association of Bermuda Insurers & Reinsurers (ABIR)
  • Capelo Law Firm
  • Devon Energy
  • FedEx
  • The Graydon Group LLC
  • Bright House Media Strategies
  • Piedmont Natural Gas
  • Renovate America
  • Sunovion Pharmaceuticals
  • Tenaska Capital Management
  • Texas Alliance of Energy Producers
  • Texas Cable Association
  • Texas Medical Association
  • Texas Association of Builders
  • Texas Business Roundtable
  • Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA)
  • Texans for Lawsuit Reform
  • The Schlueter Group
  • Texas Strategy Group
  • Texas Star Alliance Energy Solutions

April, 2015

Shortly after the loss of a number of high-profile sponsors, ALEC threatened legal action against groups that had accused it of denying climate change. 

Attorneys for ALEC sent letters to Common Cause and the League of Conservation Voters asking them to immediately “cease making false statements” and “remove all false or misleading material” suggesting that ALEC does not believe in global warming, reports The Washington Post.  [31]
While ALEC claims not to deny climate change, and says they will be making efforts to be more transparent and welcoming to divergent views, environmental groups still question the group's commitment:
“We don’t think ALEC or organizations like it are done attacking progress on climate change,” said Kert Davies, an environmental activist running the nonprofit Climate Investigations Center. “It is hard to imagine these organizations turning a corner and suddenly being open to an honest discussion of real environmental policy.”

March, 2014

The Center for Media and Democracy's (CMD) obtained an internal tracking document from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), dated March 2014 (See .xls spreadsheet), that revealed ALEC tracking 131 bills that “amongst other things, roll back state renewable energy standards, increase costs for American households with solar, hype the Keystone XL pipeline, push back on proposed EPA coal regulations that protect human health, and create industry-friendly fracking rules despite growing national and international concerns about fracking.” [52]

June, 2013

The Center for Media and Democracy's (CMDPR Watch reports that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) adopted a “model” bill that would fight against regional low-carbon fuel standards (LCFS) in the states. [51]

CMD reports that the model bill, called “Restrictions on Participation in Low-Carbon Fuel Standards Programs,” was sponsored at a November, 2012 ALEC conference in Washington by Steve Higley, a lobbyist from the U.S.-based industry group American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). AFPM includes members from both Koch Industries and ExxonMobil, who are also represented on ALEC's Private Enterprise Advisory Council. 

April, 2013

Huffington Post reports how Chevron and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) worked together to oppose the 1973 Endangered Species Act, and its supposed challenges to energy developers. [53]

Chevron sponsored a workshop as part of ALEC's policy summit in Washington, D.C. that covered how the law “often negatively impacts and stifles energy development of all kinds,” according to a planning document (PDF).

July 13, 2011

The Center for Media Democracy (CMD) and The Nation published a leaked file that revealed over 800 examples of ALEC's model legislation. The Nation attributes the leak to Aliya Rahman, an Ohio-based activist who helped organize protests at ALEC’s Spring Task Force meeting in Cincinnati. [32]

CMD now hosts the website “ALEC Exposed” which houses examples of ALEC's model legislation previously unavailable to the public. The website also provides tools to track politicians, corporations, and bills with ties to ALEC

The Nation devoted a special edition of their magazine to the breaking story, and included the following articles published in the August 1-8 edition of the magazine, and online on July 12, 2011:

Around the same time, the Los Angeles Times reported that government watchdog Common Cause was challenging ALEC's nonprofit status, arguing “it spends most of its resources lobbying, in violation of the rules governing nonprofit organizations.” [33]

ALEC responded with accusations that “Common Cause has distorted the facts, concealed critical details, and apparently attempted to mislead the news media and the public.” [34]

OpenSecrets.org reports that the 23 companies represented on ALEC's private enterprise board spent large amounts lobbying the government on health and environmental measures such as bills that would block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. [35]

June, 2011

ALEC orchestrated opposition against EPA regulations on greenhouse gasses with their model legislation, “Resolution in Opposition to EPA's Plan to Regulate Greenhouse Gases Under the Clean Air Act.”

The model legislation opposes “EPA's endangerment finding and any regulation of greenhouse gases, citing the massive economic burden that would result and the global nature of climate emissions.”

ALEC says it will “continue to support the efforts of state legislatures in resisting the EPA’s regulatory agenda” and “urges Congress to take the concerns of these states seriously and stop this regulatory train wreck in order to avoid the enormous negative impacts the EPA’s overreaching regulations will have.” [36]

ALEC also offers a document titled “EPA’s Regulatory Train Wreck: Strategies for State Legislators” that “outlines best practices for state legislators (including following the many states that are considering resolutions in 2011 to call for Congress to slow and stop this regulatory onslaught [by the EPA]).”

ALEC has published materials downplaying the risks of global warming before, including “Climate Change Overview for State Legislators” (PDF) written by Daniel Simmons, previously associated with the Mercatus Institute (an organization founded and funded by Koch Industries).  

September, 2010

Clint Woods of ALEC said that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and other cap-and-trade greenhouse gas reduction plans would become the “new battlefield” after federal climate legislation fell through. [37]

April 23, 2010

ALEC Drafted a resolution (PDF) resisting the EPA's efforts to classify coal ash as a hazardous material. [38]

Coal ash contains known neurotoxins and carcinogens such as arsenic, lead, and mercury. [39]

2009

ALEC drafted a resolution (PDF) designed to limit federal oversight of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. [40]

January, 2004

ALEC launched opposition to “Son of Kyoto” legislation across the country.

“States should reject every form of Kyoto legislation for the very same reasons as our leaders in Washington, D.C.,” said Alexandra Liddy Bourne. “The Kyoto Protocol is just another highly regressive energy tax on America's working families, with no measurable benefit to environmental or human health.”  [9]

American Legislative Exchange Council Contact & Location

As of May, 2016, ALEC's listed contact address and phone number were as follows: [62]

2900 Crystal Drive, 6th Floor
Arlington, VA 22202
Phone: 703-373-0933
Fax: 703-373-0927

Related Organizations

SourceWatch maintains a full list of organizations working behind-the-scenes with ALEC.

Resources

  1. What is ALEC?ALECExposed.org. Archived August 6, 2015.

  2. Mission,” American Legislative Exchange Council. Archived July 31, 2015.

  3. Task Forces,” ALEC. Archived August 6, 2015.

  4. American Legislative Exchange Council,” Conservative Transparency. Archived August 6, 2015.

  5. Molly Jackman. “ALEC’s Influence over Lawmaking in State Legislatures,” Brookings Institution, December 6, 2013. Archived August 6, 2015.

  6. Anne Landman. “ALEC and the Tobacco Industry,” PR Watch, July 15, 2011. Archived August 6, 2015.

  7. Position Statement on Renewables and Climate Change,” ALEC. Archived August 7, 2015. 

  8. ALEC Energy Principles” (PDF), Center for Media and Democracy. Archived August 6, 2015.

  9. (Press Release) “'Sons-of-Kyoto' Legislation: States React to the Myth of Global Warming,” US Newswire, January 21, 2004. Archived March 12, 2004.

  10. Brian Fung. “Google: We’re parting with the climate change skeptics at ALEC,” The Washington Post. September 22, 2014.

  11. Neela Banerjee. “What's Behind ALEC's Denial That It Denies Climate Change?“ Inside Climate News. April 14, 2015. Archived August 6, 2015.

  12. ExxonSecrets Factsheet: ALEC - American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC. Accessed April 12, 2016.

  13. American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) - Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group,” Greenpeace. Archived April 12, 2016. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6gieTUOkX

  14. Board of Directors,” ALEC. Archived Aug 7, 2015.

  15. Civil Justice,” American Legislative Exchange Council. Archived December, 2011.

  16. Board of Scholars,” ALEC. Archived August 1, 2015.

  17. Private Enterprise Advisory Council,” ALEC. Archived August 9, 2015.

  18. Nick Surgey. “Peabody Energy Lobbyist Schools Legislators on Getting More ALEC Travel Perks,” PR Watch, March 5, 2014. Archived August 9, 2015.

  19. Meet Our Staff,” ALEC. Archived August 9, 2015.

  20. American Legislative Exchange Council, Lisa Nelson, organizational biography (originally from Ulysses Consulting, Inc.). Archived August 9, 2015.

  21. Nora Chokshi. “ALEC, the free-market group liberals love to hate, gets a new boss,” July 8, 2014. Washington Post, July 8, 2014. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6gihArq0c

  22. Board of Directors,” ALEC. Archived January 5, 2012.

  23. Board of Scholars,” American Legislative Exchange Council. Archived January, 2012.

  24. Meet Our Staff,” American Legislative Exchange Council. Archived January, 2012.

  25. Private Enterprise Board,” American Legislative Exchange Council. Accessed January, 2012.

  26. Karl Mathieson and Ed Pilkington. “Royal Dutch Shell cuts ties with Alec over rightwing group's climate denial,” The Guardian, August 7, 2015. Archived August 9, 2015.

  27. Terry Macalister and Damian Carrington. “Shell boss endorses warnings about fossil fuels and climate change,” The Guardian, May 22, 2015.

  28. Amy Westervelt. “BP joins list of companies fleeing Alec,” The Guardian, March 23, 2015.

  29. Coral Davenport and Julie Hirschfeld Davis. “Move to Fight Obama’s Climate Plan Started Early,” The New York Times, August 3, 2015.

  30. Nick Surgey. “ALEC Conference Funding Dominated by Big Polluters,” PR Watch, July 23, 2015. Archived August 10, 2015.

  31. Tom Hamburger, Joby Warrick, and Chris Mooney. “This conservative group is tired of being accused of climate denial — and is fighting back,” The Washington Post, April 5, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6gih0apQn

  32. John Nichols. “ALEC Exposed,” The Nation,  July 12, 2011. Archived August 9, 2015.

  33. Tom Hamburger and Neela Banerjee. “State legislative bills raise conservative group's profile,” Los Angeles Times, July 13, 2011. Archived August 9, 2015.

  34. ALEC Responds to Deceptive Common Cause Report,” American Legislative Exchange Council. Archived January 4, 2012.

  35. Brad Hooker. “Corporations Represented on ALEC's Private Enterprise Board Are Big Spenders in Washington,” OpenSecrets (blog), September 12, 2011. Archived August 9, 2015.

  36. ALEC State Legislators Push Back EPA’s Onslaught of Regulations: ALEC’S EPA Regulatory Train Wreck proving to be successful,” (Press Release) American Legislative Exchange Council, June 14, 2011. Archived February 5, 2012.

  37. Darren Samuelsohn. “States are climate battlegrounds,” Politico, September 15, 2010. Archived August 9, 2015.

  38. “Resolution to Retain State Authority over Coal Ash as Non-Hazardous Waste” (PDF), ALEC Exposed.

  39. Coal Ash: Blatantly and Egregiously Hazardous,” PolluterWatch, November 18, 2010.

  40. “Resolution to Retain State Authority over Hydraulic Facturing” (PDF), ALEX Exposed.

  41. Globalwarming.org, archived August 9, 2015.

  42. Directory,” State Policy Network. Accessed August 9, 2015.

  43. Steve Horn. “Groups File IRS Complaint Alleging ALEC is a Lobbying Vehicle, Not a Charity,” DeSmogBlog, May 13, 2015.

  44. Supplemental Complaint 2015,” Common Cuase. Accessed October 30, 2015.

  45. STATE OF MINNESOTA CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE BOARD: Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order In the Matter of the Complaint of Common Cause Minnesota Regarding the American Legislative Exchange Council” (PDF), retrieved from CommonCause.org.

  46. Watch This Atlanta TV Station Expose ALEC's Influence On Local Legislators,” Media Matters, May 22, 2015.

  47. Brendan Keefe and Media King. “Legislators and corporate lobbyists meet in secret at Georgia resort,” WXIA-TV Atlanta, June 2, 2015.

  48. Their Speakers,” alecclimatechangedenial.org. Archived October 30, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6cg6zUnbQ

  49. “Bill Moyers: United States of ALEC — A Viewers Guide,” PR Watch, June 24, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6cg86G2IN

  50. United States of ALEC — A Follow-Up,” Moyers & Company, June 21, 2013.

  51. Nick Surgey. “ALEC Tours Tar Sands, Works with Industry Groups to Block Low-Carbon Fuel Standards,” PR Watch, June 17, 2013. Archived October 31, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6cg98B9Md

  52. Nick Surgey. “Revealed: ALEC’s 2014 Attacks on the Environment,” PR Watch, April 23, 2014. Archived October 30, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6cg9fb0H0

  53. Kate Sheppard. “Chevron And ALEC Take On The Big, Bad Lesser Prairie Chicken,” Huffington Post, April 12, 2014. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6cgAS7TNS

  54. Brendan Fischer. “Dirty Hands: 77 ALEC Bills in 2013 Advance a Big Oil, Big Ag Agenda,” PR Watch, August 1, 2014. Archived October 31, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6cgB4L1of

  55. After Unprecedented Claim of Legislative Immunity, Vukmir Releases ALEC Records, Pays Damages,” PR Watch, March 28, 2014. WebCite URL:  http://www.webcitation.org/6cgBjcAh9

  56. Rebekah Wilce. “Some ALEC Funders Flee, but Koch, Big Tobacco, and PhRMA Remain Loyalists,” PR Watch, August 1, 2014. Archived October 31, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6cgCogePx

  57. American Legislative Exchange Council,” (Site Search), performed April 12, 2016. 

  58. (Press Release). “New Report Reveals the Dangerous Influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) on Climate Policy in Virginia,” eNews Park Forest, March 24, 2016. Archived April 12, 2016. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6giho0Poi

  59. ALEC EXPOSED: Corporate Polluters Undermining Clean Power in Virginia” (PDF), Sierra Club, VA Chapter and Center for Media and Democracy. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  60. Elliott Negin. “Coal Companies’ Secret Funding of Climate Science Denial Exposed,” Huffington Post, April 12, 2016. Archived April 12, 2016. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6giknvBMj

  61. “Corporations that Have Cut Ties to ALEC,” Sourcewatch. Accessed April 12, 2016.

  62.  “Contact,” American Legislative Exchange Council. Archived May 20, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  63. Nick Surgey. “Peabody Coal Bankruptcy Reveals Climate Denial Network Funding,” PRWatch, June 13, 2016. Archived June 20, 2016. WebCite URL: http://www.webcitation.org/6iPmXjc4W

  64. In re: Peabody Energy Corporation, et al. Debtors,” United States Bankruptcy Court Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division,  Case 16-42529, May 27, 2016. Retrieved from DocumentCloud.

  65. Farron Cousins. “Court Documents Show Coal Giant Peabody Energy Funded Dozens Of Climate Denial Groups,” DeSmogBlog, June 13, 2016.

  66. Suzanne Goldenberg and Helena Bengtsson. “Biggest US coal company funded dozens of groups questioning climate change,” The Guardian, June 13, 2016. Archived June 20, 2016. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6iPnEUG1o

  67. Valerie Richardson. “Exxon fights Mass. AG’s ‘political’ probe into climate change dissent,” The Washington Times, June 15, 2016. Archived June 24, 2016. WebCite URL: http://www.webcitation.org/6iVfnzUhc

  68. Ben Jervey. “State Investigations Into What Exxon Knew Double, and Exxon Gets Defensive,” Desmog, April 1, 2016.

  69. Leadership,” American Legislative Exchange Council. Archived July 6, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  70. ALEC Staff,” American Legislative Exchange Council. Archived July 6, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  71. Jim Lakely. “#WebOfDenial Push by Senate Dems Exposes Their Hatred of Free Speech,” Somewhat Reasonable (Heartland Institute Blog), July 12, 2016. Archived July 14, 2016.

  72. Brendan Demelle. “Senators Launch Resolution, Speech Blitz Calling Out #WebOfDenial Blocking Climate Action,” DeSmog, July 11, 2016.

  73. Coalition Letter to Senate Web of Denial Resolution (PDF). Retrieved from the Heartland Institute. Archived .pdf on file at DeSMogBlog.

  74. Cindy Baxter. “Front Groups Attacking #WebofDenial Senate Action Took Over $92M in Dark, Dirty Money,” Desmog, July 14, 2016. Originally posted at Climate Investigations Center.

Other Resources

Organizations: