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ALEC Has Deep Ties, Big Money in Wisconsin Lawmakers and Governor

Illustration by WatchingFrogsBoil/flickr

A new report reveals the “extraordinary influence” the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has had in the Wisconsin legislature during the past 16 months—the same 16 months since Gov. Scott Walker (R) took power.

Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), which released the report, says:

This corporate-backed agenda undermines the rights of Wisconsin families while advancing the agenda of huge corporations and special interest groups.

ALEC peddles fill-in-your-state’s-name model legislation to suppress voting rights and eliminate collective bargaining. Its model bills include anti-immigrant legislation, right-wing measures on education and tax breaks for corporations.

Along with the new report, CMD and Common Cause have requested Wisconsin’s attorney general to look into ALEC’s lobbying activities.

CMD Law Fellow Brendan Fischer, who authored the report, says the global corporations, which provide funds for ALEC—along with the extremist right-wing brothers Charles and David Koch—"are buying influence with Wisconsin legislators through potentially illegal gifts called ALEC ‘scholarships.'”

They are not only giving Wisconsin legislators thousands of dollars of campaign contributions, they are also buying flights and hotel rooms. These gifts undermine Wisconsin’s reputation for clean government and the strict ethics rules designed to protect the voices of Wisconsin residents in our state's democracy.

Here are some of the key findings from the new report:

  • 32 bills or budget provisions reflecting ALEC model legislation were introduced in Wisconsin's 2011-2012 legislative session;
  • More than $276,000 in campaign contributions were made to ALEC legislators in Wisconsin from ALEC corporations since 2008;
  • More than $406,000 in campaign contributions were made to ALEC alumnus Gov. Walker from ALEC corporations over the same time period for his state campaign account;
  • At least 49 current Wisconsin legislators are known ALEC members, including the leaders of the House and Senate as well as other legislators holding key posts in the state. Additionally, the governor, the secretary of the Department of Administration and the chairman of the Public Service Commission are ALEC alumni.

Click here for the full report.

ALEC has been in the headlines recently because more than a dozen of its corporate sponsors and 45 state legislators have resigned over ALEC’s connection in pushing the “Stand Your Ground” gun law that is at the center of the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida.

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