When you walk into the offices of the American Legislative Exchange Council, it's hard to imagine it is the birthplace of a thousand pieces of legislation introduced in statehouses across the county.Read the rest here.
Only 28 people work in ALEC's dark, quiet headquarters in Washington, D.C. And Michael Bowman, senior director of policy, explains that the little-known organization's staff is not the ones writing the bills. The real authors are the group's members — a mix of state legislators and some of the biggest corporations in the country.
"Most of the bills are written by outside sources and companies, attorneys, [and legislative] counsels," Bowman says.
Here's how it works: ALEC is a membership organization. State legislators pay $50 a year to belong. Private corporations can join, too. The tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp. and drug-maker Pfizer Inc. are among the members. They pay tens of thousands of dollars a year. Tax records show that corporations collectively pay as much as $6 million a year.
With that money, the 28 people in the ALEC offices throw three annual conferences. The companies get to sit around a table and write "model bills" with the state legislators, who then take them home to their states.
Luxury travel to resorts, golf outings, sumptuous banquets: and none of it reported as income or as campaign donations. All of it under the table. And ALEC is just one of many, perhaps hundreds, of lobbying operations that play this game.
Is it any wonder that Republicans will look for any excuse to defund NPR? It's one of a handful of media outlets that remains willing to call them on their corrupt little games.