Wednesday, December 4, 2013

ALEC lies again, tries to hold on to shrinking membership

Yesterday we told you about leaked internal documents that show the secretive lobbying group ALEC is bleeding members and money. Well, it’s also been lying to the public in an effort to hide its likely tax code violations.

ALEC lying? What a shocker!

But unlike its lies about how great right-to-work-for-less laws are and why suppressing workers’ voting rights is such a swell idea, ALEC’s lies about its tax status suggest the corporate legislative clearinghouse is in real trouble.

Documents released by the Guardian yesterday reveal that ALEC has formed the “Jeffersonian Project,” a new 501(c)(4) group established to shield ALEC from IRS investigations into its current 501(c)(3) charitable status.

But that’s not what ALEC told reporters just before it created the “Jeffersonian Project.” PR Watch reports:
In December of last year, ALEC spokesperson Kaitlyn Buss told Bloomberg News "we have no current plans to operate a 501(c)(4) in the near future.”
When Buss said "the near future" and "current plans," she apparently meant "next week."
Just eight days after the Bloomberg story ran, ALEC formed the 501(c)(4) "Jeffersonian Project," according to a certificate of incorporation obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy. (ALEC also failed to mention to Bloomberg that it had incorporated another 501(c)(4), "ALEC NOW" in July of 2012; that entity was dissolved earlier this year.)
ALEC hopes the more flexible lobbying ability of the "Jeffersonian Project" will "provide greater legal protection" and "lessen ethics concerns."

But as our friends at the Center for Media and Democracy point out, this desire sounds like ALEC's admission of what we've known all along: ALEC lobbies way too much to be called a "charity."
ALEC's charitable status had allowed its corporate members to write-off their ALEC membership dues -- which are essentially lobbying expenses -- as tax-deductible charitable contributions.
"In forming a 501(c)(4) arm, it appears that ALEC is on notice that it's not going to get away with abusing our nation's charitable tax laws much longer," said [Steve] Spaulding, [Staff Counsel at Common Cause].
Yesterday's leaked documents also show that ALEC has been lying to its own legislative members about the group's dwindling number of corporate backers. But hey, at least they're considering a "loyalty" pledge to keep ALEC lawmakers subservient to that shrinking body of corporate masters. Yep, the Guardian documents reveal:
[There] is a plan to have the legislators who serve as ALEC State Chairs sign a pledge of "loyalty" and agree to "put the interests of [ALEC] first." This proposal underscored concerns that some ALEC politicians have been putting the interests of ALEC (and its corporate backers) ahead of their constituents, and ahead of their commitment to upholding their state constitution.  
This week ALEC is having its "State & Nation Policy Summit" in Washington, DC. Given all the news about ALEC's lies to cover up IRS trouble and its schemes to survive amid lost members and money, we can't imagine the meetings are going too well.

So workers and activists plan to liven things up tomorrow by crashing the summit with a rally and march against ALEC.

Its been precisely the work of activists and workers that have helped weaken ALEC's war against workers and democracy. So let's keep it up!