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WI Watchdog: "No Lawmaker Should Belong to ALEC"

PHOTO: Mike McCabe, who heads the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, believes no lawmaker should belong to ALEC - the American Legislative Exchange Council. (Photo used with permission.)
PHOTO: Mike McCabe, who heads the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, believes no lawmaker should belong to ALEC - the American Legislative Exchange Council. (Photo used with permission.)
December 10, 2013

MADISON, Wis. – A third of Wisconsin's lawmakers – 43 of 133 – are members of the conservative, pro-business group ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Recently revealed documents offer a glimpse into the inner workings of the organization that has influenced or outright written legislation passed in Wisconsin and other states.

Mike McCabe, who heads the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, says ALEC may say it isn't a lobbying organization, but in his opinion, it is.

"It's disgraceful that Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board has not cracked down and declared this to be lobbying,” he stresses. “And it's likewise disgraceful that ALEC is able to get away with claiming not to be a lobbying organization in other places around the country."

The U.S. office of the British news organization The Guardian, which claims ALEC has been losing some corporate and legislative members and is facing a funding crisis released the documents.

One of the documents shows that ALEC was asking for a loyalty pledge from its state chairmen to put the interests of ALEC first. It was rejected by Wisconsin's former ALEC chair, Republican Rep. Bill Kramer of Waukesha.

McCabe says the idea of a loyalty pledge shocks him.

"That speaks volumes about how poisonous this whole arrangement is,” he says. “Lawmakers have no business belonging to this organization. This group is really one part corporate-funded dating service and one part special-interest bill mill.”

McCabe calls it a dating service because he says ALEC arranges for corporate officials to meet with lawmakers.

ALEC-influenced legislation in Wisconsin has included a photo ID requirement to vote, which is currently tied up in the courts; a number of self-defense and anti-immigration laws and legislation to limit corporate liability for harm done to consumers.

The Center for Media and Democracy says 32 ALEC-sponsored bills were introduced in the last legislative session – and 21 were passed.

ALEC refers to itself as nonpartisan proponent of free markets and limited government. McCabe says there's really nothing similar to ALEC on the Democratic side.

"There was one organization that was started up that they dubbed ALICE, which was supposed to be sort of a liberal response to ALEC,” he says, “but it never really got off the ground and never has gained any traction."


Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI