Have you met ALEC in Minnesota?

Common Cause report examines how corporate lobbyists are drafting Minnesota legislation behind closed doors

Today, corporate lobbyists and legislators are gathering in New Orleans for the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to draft legislation designed to directly benefit some of America’s largest corporations. Led by such firms as Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Koch Industries, AT&T, Altria and ExxonMobil, the ALEC has quietly drafted over 826 pieces of legislation that have been introduced in all 50 state capitols.

In Minnesota, at least 19 legislators are known to be members of ALEC’s legislative task forces, which vote with corporate lobbyists to approve the model bills that are introduced across the country.  Corporations pay $7,000 to $25,000 a year to get direct access to legislators at the various gatherings organized by ALEC, held at some America’s most exclusive hotels and resorts.

The work of ALEC shows how the Minnesota capitol is governed by corporate lobbyists instead of main street voters. Dozens of corporations are investing millions of dollars to write business-friendly legislation that is being passed into law without public knowledge and often at the expense of the public interest.

A report by Common Cause found that over $150,000 in campaign contributions were funneled into Minnesota through 22 firms represented on ALEC’s “private enterprise board,” the organization’s corporate governing body.  The largest contributions came from Flint Hills Resources, a Koch industries subsidiary, and State Farm Insurance.  Minnesota’s low contribution limits mitigated the influence of these groups compared to other states. But, as a result of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, many of these groups funneled money into Minnesota through various trade associations and political funds, money that goes largely unreported.

Common Cause examined campaign finance reports collected by the National Institute on Money in State Politics. The study included political spending linked to the 22 firms that have donated more than $141 million since 2001 to state candidates and political parties and another $229 million in support of – or in opposition to – state ballot issues.

Read the report here: http://www.commoncause.org/atf/cf/%7Bfb3c17e2-cdd1-4df6-92be-bd4429893665%7D/MONEYPOWERANDALEC.PDF

The report was limited to those 22 firms because ALEC does not release its full list of corporate members. The National Institute on Money in State Politics, which drew on published reports to compile a partial list of additional ALEC-affiliated companies, reported last month that those firms have put more than $500 million into state elections since 1990.

Some of the ALEC model bills that have been introduced in Minnesota include:

Here are the Minnesota legislators that are members of ALEC task forces:

Name Office ALEC Task Force
Carol McFarlane Minnesota Representative Education
Chris Gerlach Minnesota Senator Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force
Michael L. Beard Minnesota Representative Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force
Gen Olson Minnesota Senator Education
Pat Garofalo Minnesota Representative Education
Sondra L. Erickson Minnesota Representative Education
Gretchen Hoffman Minnesota Senator HHS
Paul Anderson Minnesota Representative HHS
Mary Kiffmeyer Minnesota Representative International Relations Task Force
Matt Dean Minnesota Representative International Relations Task Force
Roger C. Chamberlain Minnesota Senator Public Safety and Elections Task Force
Ron Shimanski Minnesota Representative Public Safety and Elections Task Force
Ted Daley Minnesota Senator Public Safety and Elections Task Force
Linda Runbeck Minnesota Representative Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force
Pam Myhra Minnesota Representative Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force
Bruce D. Anderson Minnesota Representative Telecommunications and IT Task Force
Connie Doepke Minnesota Representative Telecommunications and IT Task Force
Mike Parry Minnesota Senator Telecommunications and IT Task Force
Steve Drazkowski Minnesota Representative Civil Justice
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