(Ted Houston, KFYI News) A new report by a broad coalition of organizations takes a swipe at the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, for its lobbying efforts in Arizona and around the country.
The report was a joint effort of the Center for Media and Democracy, Common Cause, Arizona Working Families, People for the American Way Foundation, and Progress Now.
According to the report, Arizona is "ground zero" for ALEC's efforts to lobby state legislatures to pass conservative, business-friendly legislation due to the large number of Arizona Republican lawmakers who are members of ALEC.
Lisa Graves from the Center for Media and Democracy says her group has identified at least 17 bills introduced in the Arizona legislature this year that appear to have originated with ALEC, some of which are "verbatim ALEC bills".
Among those bills, the report says, are measures that would expand school-choice vouchers and charter schools in order to divert funding away from public schools; eliminate the collective bargaining rights of union workers; make it difficult to file a class action lawsuit against corporations and manufacturers in product-liability cases; eliminate Arizona's public retirement system and require employees to opt into defined contribution (401k-type) retirement plans; and make it difficult to expand health care coverage to Arizona residents under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Bob Edgar of Common Cause, who spent 12 years as a Congressman, says ALEC is registered with the IRS as a charity, and its annual tax filings (obtained via Public Records Requests) indicate it does "zero lobbying – zero" when in fact ALEC "boasts to its corporate members that they get 1,000 bills introduced (in state legislatures) every year, and about 20% of them become law".
The reports calls on the IRS to investigate ALEC's claim of being a charity.