A taxpayer-supported campaign against Big Government
ALEC, one of the right's premier ideas factories, has been the recipient of public money in several states
Taxpayer dollars in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Kansas are being spent to fund state lawmakers' memberships in the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which provides model state legislation drafted with the help of big business. In some of the states, public money has gone to travel and food expenses as well, including in Pennsylvania, whose taxpayers spent $50,000 to cater ALEC’s 2007 conference in Philadelphia.
The public money is helping to fund the activities of an organization dedicated to drastically cutting government spending and whose non-profit status is currently being challenged by Common Cause, which contends that ALEC is essentially a lobbying organization. Corporations are given a direct role in drafting the model legislation that ALEC urges states to adopt -- legislation that, if enacted, often benefits the same corporations. ALEC defines itself as a professional association, just like scrupulously nonpartisan organizations like the National Conference of State Legislatures and The Council of State Governments, which legislators commonly belong to.
"ALEC receives payment from a variety of sources, sometimes in the form of educational grants for legislative members," ALEC spokeswoman Raegan Weber wrote in an email to Salon. "ALEC provides an educational environment to hear from experts on a variety of issues including education, public safety, health care and tax and fiscal policy."
The most notable disbursement of public money to ALEC, discovered in documents obtained by this reporter from Common Cause for a separate Philadelphia City Paper article, took place in Pennsylvania, where a $50,000 appropriation to cater the ALEC meeting was slipped into the 2007 state budget. The food bill for that gathering ended up including $30,450 for roasted chicken breast, $4,000 for Philly cheese-steaks and $3,000 for cheesecake lollipops -- all of it paid for by Pennsylvania taxpayers.
In the budget, the ALEC outlay was described as being "for the payment of expenses related to hosting conferences, meetings or conventions of multistage organizations which protect the member states’ interests or which promote governmental financial excellence or accountability."
Abstract, continue reading here: http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/07/28/denvir_alec