Lawmakers Condemn ‘ALEC’ Lobbying Group at Statehouse

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legislatureDES MOINES, Iowa – Two state lawmakers joined representatives from the advocacy group, Progress Iowa, Tuesday to speak out against a conservative organization they say operates as “stealth lobbyists.”

The American Legislative Exchange Council, called “ALEC” for short, was formed in 1973 by conservative activists, gaining members in state legislatures across the U.S.  Progress Iowa released a new research report Tuesday titled “ALEC Watch,” detailing the group’s involvement in the Iowa legislature.

State Representative Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines) says it’s not uncommon for lawmakers to meet with lobbying groups; she admitted many Democrats are associated with various unions in the state. However, she says ALEC is different, because the group operates behind closed doors, without the public’s knowledge.

“We’re associated with organizations,” she said. “But all of those organizations operate out in the open. They do not operate under a shroud of secrecy.”

Executive Director for Progress Iowa, Matt Sinovic, says even if you’re a conservative whose ideology aligns with the type of legislation ALEC supports, you shouldn’t be supportive of a group who he claims “erodes democracy.”

“What [ALEC does] is, there are legislators who serve on a task force, and there are lobbyists who serve on a task force, and they both get to vote on these ‘model bills.’ And if they don’t agree – if the lobbyists don’t vote for a bill, it does not become an ‘ALEC-model’ bill. And we don’t know about it, until it’s reported on 5, 10, 15 years later, by research done or by a whistle-blower,” he said. “So, even if you agree with everything that ALEC believes in, I think it’s really important to note that they are truly undermining our democracy.”

State Senator Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) also spoke at the event Tuesday. Progress Iowa pointed to an “ALEC Watch Hotline” telephone number, as well, for citizens to call in with any concerns of ALEC-related activity in the state. Information on the hotline and the report can be found on Progress Iowa’s webpage.


  • John Smith

    My understanding is that ALEC, for federal tax purposes, is classified as a non-political or non-partisan organization. You know, because an organization that writes legislation isn’t political, is it? But, as such, they get to keep their corporate donors list from the public.

    I also understand that the taxpayers of Iowa have been paying ALEC fees for Republicans in the House so that they can get ALEC legislation on line. You know, just fill in the state name at the top, and send it on to committee! That might account for VERY similar legislation showing up in numerous state assemblies.

    Finally, I understand that the Governor is a charter member of ALEC, from back in its early days..

    If ANY of these things are actually true, I would say that they are indeed undermining our democracy.

  • bjertbjaeger

    The Branstad history is one replete with corruption and elitism, just look at his kids, enjoying the privileges of daddy’s power while have criminal records that would never allow an ordinary citizen to prosper.

  • Diane

    Hopefully the feds will investigate for us since we have “leaders” who are part of this corruption. Where is the outrage?

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