in Houston, Texas
Corporate money from American Legislative Exchange Council members lifts Texas campaigns
Thursday, Jul 21, 2011, 04:00PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
money

American Legislative Exchange Council members have given more than $2 million to support Gov. Rick Perry and a total of more than $3.8 million to 21 Texas elected officials, all Republicans, according to an analysis by the National Institute for Money in State Politics.

How the contributions study came to be might be more interesting than its findings, which establish conclusively that conservative corporate members of the Exchange Council give lots of money -- $516.2 million over the past 20 years -- to conservative legislative members of the Exchange Council, conservative ballot initiatives and conservative state party organizations.

It has pretty much been this way since 1973 when conservatives founded the non-profit to provide a forum or exchange, if you will, between public and private conservatives. The Exchange Council claims more than 2,000 members with a website touting limited government, free markets and federalism.

The Center for Media and Democracy, a liberal activist group based in Wisconsin, has spurred a revival of interest in the ALEC. Center organizers posted about 800 model bills it said were leaked to them on a site called ALEC Exposed. The Center contends these bills are proof that conservative legislative and corporate leaders are covertly hijacking the American lawmaking process.

This “relatively little-known” (Los Angeles Times) “shadowy group” (Capital Times, Madison, WI), a “secret nonprofit” (The Business Insider), has been referred to in 291 news stories over the past year and 1,080 over the past five years, with 2,680 references in all in newspapers, magazines, blogs and news wires during that time, according to a Nexis database search.

Suspicion of the council surfaced in March when Republican Party officials in Wisconsin asked for and received e-mails from the state-sponsored account of a University of Wisconsin history professor, William Cronon. Cronon suggested on his personal blog the Exchange Council was responsible for the spate of Republican-backed laws being passed in Wisconsin and other states.

The e-mails failed to reveal Cronon politicking on state time.

Because of the council leak, the Institute for Money in State Politics was able to link specific corporate money with specific legislators and issues. Of the $516.2 million given over the past 20 years, corporate donors spent $228.3 million on campaigns in support of issues on ballots in various states. Another $202.1 million went to candidates and $85.8 million went to almost exclusively Republican state committees.  

Perry was, by far, the most popular donor target in Texas. Former Republican House Speaker and Exchange Council member, Tom Craddick, got $878,000 from corporate council members.

Other leaders were: State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, $315,000; Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, $163,000; and Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, $124,000.

None of this donating, the totals of which are available to the public through legally required contribution reports, is illegal. It does, however, raises questions about the ways laws get made and passed, according to the Institute report:
The bottom line is, all sides of corporate America met willing partners at ALEC conferences, sat side by side with lawmakers to draft industry-friendly legislation, and helped those lawmakers win elections to ensure that their legislation had the best possible chance of passage.
 
CORRECTION: The first paragraph and headline of this story were updated on Friday, July 22, at 2:50 p.m. to make it clearer that the donations were from corporate members of the council, not the council itself. Texas Watchdog regrets the error.
 
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Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of money by flickr user elycefeliz, used via a Creative Commons license.
Comments
For reals?
Friday, 07/22/2011 - 07:18PM

holy shotty reporting. If you can even call it reporting.

Theses corporations give to all sorts of causes including ALEC, NAACP, RNC, DNC, special Olympics, etc.

Pathetic.

Curtis Walker
Saturday, 07/23/2011 - 10:29AM

This story is HUGE. It will, however, not be properly outed until it is hammered day in and day out on Radio/TV/Cable with constant detailed reports, perhaps item by item and name by name, by the print/internet media. Just pretend you are on fox driving home a gigantic lie....only these reports are the truth. Finally, reporting must demonstrate clearly the impact on individuals. Stories must have the "what is in this for me" front and center.

Jeff B
Sunday, 07/24/2011 - 12:30AM

Yes, so shoddy...

I'm sure all of those causes sat down with statesmen to write legislation designed to improve their operations, a.k.a: bottom line.

Keep up the good work folks.

Geronimeaux
Friday, 08/05/2011 - 09:27AM

Democracy in America is an ever evolving Greed factory since ALEC was formed. We the people should be rewritten as we the corporations have bought out the American system of government.. Yes, it is reporting if you don't see that then you have been reprogrammed by FOX news.

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