Tuesday, December 3, 2013

ALEC is losing members and financing, worried about IRS

Leaked documents today reveal the secretive lobbying group ALEC is losing members and financial support as the public becomes aware of its goal to empower corporations and destroy the middle class.

For years, the Koch-funded organization has acted as a corporate dating service, funding lavish vacations for state lawmakers and introducing them to corporate donors with deep pockets. In exchange, lawmakers introduced legislation to weaken workers' rights, lower the middle-class standard of living, eradicate public education, promote tobacco use, eliminate environmental and consumer protections and suppress voting.

Today the Guardian reported ALEC is hemorrhaging members. 
...the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), which shapes and promotes legislation at state level across the US, has identified more than 40 lapsed corporate members it wants to attract back into the fold under a scheme referred to in its documents as the "Prodigal Son Project".
(And Gawker helpfully points it it misspelled 'prodigal' in the original document.)

And then there's this: 
The Guardian has learned that by Alec's own reckoning the network has lost almost 400 state legislators from its membership over the past two years, as well as more than 60 corporations that form the core of its funding. In the first six months of this year it suffered a hole in its budget of more than a third of its projected income. 
The reference to the Prodigal Son Project is just one of many revelations contained in a batch of internal Alec documents that have been obtained by the Guardian. The documents, prepared for its most recent annual board meeting in Chicago in August, cast light on the inner workings of the group.
(Read the documents here.)

In addition to financial problems and falling membership, legal trouble is on the horizon for ALEC. The corporate lobbying group pretends it isn't a lobbying group and therefore claims it is tax exempt. Those claims have been challenged by Common Cause and the Center for Media and Democracy. The two groups filed a whistleblower complaint with the IRS earlier this year. ThinkProgress tells us ALEC is worried.
ALEC is creating a new lobbying wing in 2014 that will act separately from the rest of the organization. This new wing, called the “Jeffersonian Project,” will “provide greater legal protection or lessen ethics concerns,” the documents say. This means ALEC is trying to create an organization without a tax-exempt status so it doesn’t get in trouble for lobbying for the passage of bills. The documents show that ALEC would still like the Jeffersonian Project tightly linked, though. “No action can be taken by the Jeffersonian Project unless it is supported by a current ALEC policy,” the documents read. The project is also spun more positively with the board saying it “will be a new revenue source.”
Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of greedy billionaires.