Exxon and Koch Pay ALEC for Access to State Legislators

Sat, 2011-07-23 12:24Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

Exxon and Koch Pay ALEC for Access to State Legislators

Corporations are circumventing lobby laws by purchasing direct access to the nation’s lawmakers, according to a recent Bloomberg investigative report. Through membership fees paid to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a Washington D.C. based policy institute, corporate entities like Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries are playing an active role in shaping state legislation.

According to Bloomberg, Koch and Exxon are among energy companies that stand to benefit from a cross-country energy policy that they helped write. Both companies paid a participation fee between $3,000 and $10,000 to sit at a legislative drafting table, among policy authors and elected officials.

ALEC charges membership fees of up to $35,000 and levies additional costs if companies want to join in policy creation sessions. The resulting draft “model legislation” is then adopted by member officials who support its passage into law.

The process amounts to a legal loophole, through which corporations can influence public procedure without registering the activity as lobbying.

According to Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, “this is just another hidden way for corporations to buy their way into the legislative process.”

The alliance between lawmakers and some of the country’s most powerful corporate entities has elected representatives escorting industry issues through the political process. Companies like Exxon and Koch, who are generous campaign supporters, have direct access to legislators behind ALEC’s closed doors.

“It’s an end-run around transparency and disclosure laws,” says former Democratic representative Jeremy Kalin. As paying members of ALEC, corporations are in effect “paying for an opportunity to connect directly with legislators” he says.

According to Bloomberg, ALEC’s internal financial structure is a guarded mystery, as is its confidential list of corporate and legislative members. Because ALEC is a tax-exempt organization it is not required to disclose industry funds. 

Bloomberg’s investigation uncovered internal documents that demonstrate a heavy reliance on corporate financing. Memberships for lawmakers are a meager $100 for two years, while companies can pay up to $100,000 for high-profile ‘sponsor’ positions and up to $35,000 for a seat at the drafting table. Companies can also sponsor events, like the one Exxon will pay $45,000 to host next month, to educate member politicians about unconventional gas.

We try to provide our views on legislation to anyone who will listen, including legislators and non-governmental organizations,” says Alan Jeffers, Exxon spokesman.

There are currently more than 2000 state lawmaker and 300 private sector members of ALEC. There are 80 former ALEC members who currently represent their states in Congress.  

Not surprisingly, the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas reductions are emerging as a target for ALEC draft legislation, which is in part shaped by Exxon, Koch and other industry representatives. An ALEC report entitled “EPA’s Regulatory Train Wreck: Strategies for State Legislators” encourages state officials to pressure Congress to stop the EPA “by any means necessary.” So far 13 states have implemented ALEC-style legislation.

ALEC spokesperson Raegan Weber says the organization is committed to supporting “good conservative policy” which, according to the company website, means the promotion of free markets, limited government, federalism and individual freedom.

The reduction of GHGs in the atmosphere, if managed by a federal agency like the EPA, would for ALEC amount to a corruption of these principles. “Our position on EPA regulations is that they’re usurping the legislative process,” says Weber, which is remarkably similar to how others would describe the activities of ALEC.

Image Credit: ThinkProgress

Previous Comments

‘It is now truely [sic] a moral issue.’

Taken that many are suffering and some have died during the recent heat blanket, wet and dry, across large parts of the US and there will surely be more to come as greater areas of ice are lost:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/Watching_Arctic_Sea_Ice_Melt.html

and sea levels rise:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/Rising-Oceans-Too-Late.html

and there is much more about both of those if you continue with stupid.

The pollutocrats paying for the disinformation campaign that you subscribe to need to be taken to task. They are encouraging crimes against humanity - nothing less.

When will you deniers wake up?

anonymous must be paid well to spread his bullsh*t here.

He even answers himself now.

‘Facts, like the slowdown in the normal sea level rise in the last ten years.’

You may like to check those facts. Sea level rise was not slowing down just the rate of acceleration in sea level rise - a very different quantity.

But then I doubt that you know the differences between speed, velocity and acceleration anyway.

misinformation is a science and an art but there’s no denying pollution is a poison. So why spew poison into the sky if can be mitigated or totally obliterated using renewal clean energy. Renewable energy will also create a whole new business sector. Human nature prescribes to the might makes right theory. So the stronger more organized, wealthier lobbyist will get the nudge to come out on top. Renewable energy will need a nudge from the private sector because the govt and the fossil fuel sector are in bed with each other.

“Renewable energy will also create a whole new business sector.”

In that case fossil fuel will become obsolete in due time and we can all quit worrying about it. Fossil fuel is a problem that solves itself. It gradually gets more expensive and renewables get cheaper and everybody wins.

So everybody just relax already.

[x]

Crossposted from PolluterWatch blog on Jay Lehr.

If you're John Stossel and you want to host a segment to rail against the US Environmental Protection Agency, who ought you call?

It turns out, a man who was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison for defrauding the EPA!

Stossel's guest last night, Jay Lehr, was sentenced to six months–serving three–in...

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