An article appeared today on OpenSecrets Blog concerning ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and the corporations who support their efforts, some 23 of the world’s largest. ALEC, for those who are not familiar, is made up of many corporate CEO’s and legislators, and writes “template” or model legislation that is shared with our Congressmen/women and Senators, both on the federal and state levels. Many of these model laws are passed, laws that would roll back much of the progress made in the areas of clean air and water, education, voting rights, banking and financial reform, and tax policy.
This article also listed the top members of Congress who have received millions in donations from those 23 corporations. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out where those members’ sentiments lie.
I offer the article here in its entirety.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is an ideologically conservative consortium of state legislators and business interests known to draft model legislation for state lawmakers across the country.
“Legislators welcome their private sector counterparts to the table as equals, working in unison to solve the challenges facing our nation,” ALEC’s websites states.
A whistleblower connected to ALEC recently gave the Center for Media and Democracy information tying ALEC to hundreds of models for draft legislation — draft legislation that the organization boasts on its website that is not only introduced by state lawmakers but also regularly passed into law.
Twenty-three corporations — including AT&T, Exxon Mobil, Kraft, Coca-Cola and Koch Industries — compose the consortium’s “private enterprise board.”
On the national level, the companies involved in ALEC’s private enterprise board have also been mustering a juggernaut of lobbyists to target congressional initiatives, as well as federal departments like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The breadth of ALEC’s influence has also extended to campaign contributions for a number of candidates, including Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), who received $368,200 from the people and political action committees associated with the companies on ALEC’s private enterprise board during the 2010 election cycle, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s more than any other federal politician.
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for phrma.jpgOf the 23 companies on the private enterprise board, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has spent the largest amount on lobbying the government.
Last year, the drug trade group spent more than $22.74 million on lobbying and hired 156 lobbyists — about 59 percent more lobbyists than any other ALEC company. Of those, the Center for Responsive Politics has found that 120 were once federal employees — and four were former members of Congress.
Since 2009, PhRMA has spent $57.18 million on lobbying.
The next highest lobbying spender in recent years, with $46.7 million spent since 2009, was Exxon Mobil.
Here is a table showing the lobbying expenditures of each of these 23 companies since 2009. Note: figures for 2011 are through the end of June, the most recently available data:
Organization 2009 2010 2011
Altria Group $12,770,000 $10,360,000 $5,480,000
American Bail Coalition $0 $80,000 $35,000
AT&T Inc. $14,729,673 $15,395,078 $11,690,000
Bayer AG $8,478,512 $4,903,640 $3,380,000
Coca-Cola Co. $9,390,000 $7,352,795 $3,450,000
Diageo PLC $2,250,000 $2,620,000 $1,100,000
Energy Future Holdings Corp. $3,974,014 $4,731,228 $2,770,000
Exxon Mobil $27,430,000 $12,450,000 $6,820,000
GlaxoSmithKline $8,760,000 $6,070,000 $2,650,000
Intuit Inc. $2,142,000 $2,249,000 $1,589,000
Johnson & Johnson $6,560,000 $6,700,000 $3,106,000
Koch Industries $12,450,000 $8,070,000 $4,060,000
Kraft Foods $3,390,000 $3,000,000 $1,450,000
Peabody Energy $5,835,000 $6,591,000 $3,727,000
Pfizer Inc. $25,819,268 $13,380,000 $7,440,000
PhRMA $26,150,520 $21,740,000 $9,290,000
Reed Elsevier Inc. $2,130,000 $1,670,000 $810,000
Reynolds American $4,556,215 $4,323,293 $1,728,305
Salt River Project $1,170,000 $870,000 $370,000
State Farm Insurance $3,420,000 $3,620,000 $1,540,000
United Parcel Service $8,430,526 $5,587,349 $2,642,399
Wal-Mart Stores $7,390,000 $6,160,000 $4,070,000
Much of these companies’ lobbying efforts have targeted the health care reform law signed by President Barack Obama last year, as well as environmental measures, such as bills that would block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.
One of the top federal agencies that the companies on the ALEC private enterprise board have been focusing their lobbying efforts on is the EPA.
ALEC claims on its website that the EPA is trying to “regulate everything” because “everything runs on fossil fuels.”
It further claims that the EPA has begun “developing and finalizing a slew of overreaching and inefficient air and water rules over the next several years that will dramatically increase energy costs, cause enormous negative impacts to jobs and the economy, irreparably damage the competitiveness of American business and trample on state sovereignty in the process.”
According to the Center’s research, 10 of ALEC’s private enterprise board members lobbied the EPA during 2009, and during the first six months of 2011, eight of these companies have.
Furthermore, the people and PACs affiliated with the 23 corporations on ALEC’s private enterprise board have contributed millions to federal political candidates and committees.
During the 2010 election cycle, the people and PACs associated with these companies gave $25.98 million to federal political candidates and committees, according to the Center’s research, with more than two-thirds of that sum aiding Republicans.
According to the Center’s research, 112 candidates have received more than $50,000 from these interests and 27 have collected more than $100,000.
After Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has collected the most, with $328,100 from people and PACs associated with 17 companies on the ALEC private enterprise board. And Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) ranked third, gathering $257,000 from 19 of the companies.
Notably, before she was defeated last November, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) received $221,500 from the people and PACs associated with 18 of the companies on the ALEC private enterprise board..
By contrast, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has taken $54,600 from people and PACs associated with six of the companies on the ALEC private enterprise board. That ranks her as the No. 96 top beneficiary.
Here is a table showing the top 20 political candidates to receive donations from the 23 companies during the 2010 election cycle.
Recipient Total # of ALEC Co.’s
John Boehner (R-Ohio) $368,247 18
Eric Cantor (R-Va.) $328,148 17
Richard Burr (R-NC) $257,001 19
Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) $247,900 17
Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) $221,485 18
Pete Sessions (R-Texas) $190,944 14
Dave Camp (R-Mich.) $186,850 18
Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) $181,300 17
Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) $176,150 19
James Clyburn (D-S.C.) $167,248 15
Harry Reid (D-Nev.) $160,700 14
Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) $138,000 17
Fred Upton (R-Mich.) $136,648 17
James DeMint (R-S.C.) $131,650 16
John Thune (R-S.D.) $130,908 18
Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) $125,782 11
Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) $123,871 13
Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) $123,450 12
Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) $117,999 14
Rob Portman (R-Ohio) $117,750 18
All the while, the companies on the ALEC private enterprise board have also favored Republican national party committees more than their Democratic counterparts.
According to research by the Center for Responsive Politics, the people and PACs associated with these 23 companies have donated the following sums:
$916,100 to the National Republican Congressional Committee
$859,700 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee
$445,600 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
$324,900 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
$218,300 to the Republican National Committee
$174,200 to the Democratic National Committee
Center for Responsive Politics researchers Dan Auble and Sarah Bryner contributed to this report.
These facts and figures should give us all pause. We are fighting an uphill battle to win in the 2012 elections, from the President on down to the local level in our states. The money arrayed against Democrats is practically unlimited, especially in light of the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case. Can any one of us imagine running against the titans of Wal-Mart and Exxon-Mobil?
While there are a few Democrats listed above, the vast majority are Republicans who received the vast majority of the dollars. In fact, these corporations’ PAC’s donated to Republican Congressional and Senate Re-election Committees at practically a 3:1 ratio.
For anyone doubting the potential effects of ALEC’s agenda, just look at the current voter suppression efforts by Republican governors in many different states. The problem has become such that a grass-roots petition drive is now being sponsored by Change.org and, at this writing, has some 35,000 signatures. Voters are definitely concerned and with good reason. A change of 1% of voters in many states would be enough to change election outcomes…and cause a defeat for Democrats whose most-likely voters would be targeted by these new laws…seniors, students, the disabled, and the poor. It is hard to believe that these draconian voter suppression efforts are coincidental at a time when ALEC is becoming very active and putting out model legislation that is virtually the same from state to state. As I said, it does not take a rocket scientist…
Another issue that has come into sharp focus lately has been the attack on the EPA. The article singles the Agency out as being on ALEC’s hit list. If one looks at the list of the top corporations, they will see many oil and gas companies featured prominently for obvious reasons, including the Koch brothers, one of the country’s worst polluters. Again, there is no coincidence here!
While we as individuals can do little to fight these behemoths of industry, we can hold our elected officials accountable for their votes. Our up-hill battle is just beginning and it is obvious that we must fight doubly hard to make sure that we replace ALEC’s friends in Congress with progressive Democrats who will protect our environment, our laws, and show them that money cannot ALWAYS buy votes!