Non-profit

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

Website:

www.ALEC.org

Location:

ARLINGTON, VA

Tax ID:

52-0140979

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $10,352,239
Expenses: $10,237,195
Assets: $6,438,760

CEO:

Lisa B. Nelson

Formation:

1973

Founders:

Henry Hyde, Paul Weyrich and Mark Rhoads

ESG Activism

The American Legislative Exchange Council is a 501(c)(3) non-profit think tank that also functions as the nation’s largest voluntary membership association for state legislators along with offering membership to private sector companies and think tanks. [1] ALEC was founded in 1973 but remained largely unknown outside of political circles until left-wing advocacy groups including Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause waged a corporate campaign against the group and its private sector members in 2012 that continued for the next several years.

ALEC is considered to be a “conservative alternative” to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which is often cited as leaning left on many issues. [2]

Founding

ALEC was founded in 1973 as The Conservative Caucus of State Legislators and was a project of Mark Rhoads, an Illinois state legislative Republican staffer (later a state Senator) who wanted to counteract liberal policies moving in the states. He was supported by then-Illinois state Rep. Henry Hyde (R), who at the time was the Majority Leader in the Illinois House of Representatives and would later become a long serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Paul Weyrich, a prominent conservative activist most notable for co-founding the Heritage Foundation. The organization was soon after renamed the American Legislative Exchange Council to avoid using the word “conservative” that many felt was unpopular at the time. [3]

Organizational Overview

ALEC claims nearly one-fourth of America’s state legislators are in its ranks along with many other stakeholders. ALEC is governed by a board of directors composed of 23 state lawmakers in which all governing authority is vested. There is additional “Private Enterprise Advisory Council” of representatives from member companies and organizations, but it does not have any voting power. [4]

ALEC publishes original research year-round, but the main functions of the organization revolves around its three annual conferences: The Spring Task Force Summit (in April or May), the Annual Meeting (in July or August), and the States and Nation Policy Summit (in December). These three meetings are where ALEC’s nine task forces meet to develop model policies. [5]

ALEC Task Forces each are centered on a different policy area and function similar to legislative committees in the legislatures. President Ronald Reagan encouraged ALEC to form its task forces in the 1980s. The task forces are:[6]

  • Civil Justice
  • Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development
  • Communications and Technology
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Education and Workforce Development
  • Energy, Environment and Agriculture
  • Federalism and International Relations
  • Health and Human Services
  • Tax and Fiscal Policy

Each model policy brought forward to a task force must be sponsored by an ALEC member legislator and pass on two separate votes of the private sector members and legislators to be referred to the ALEC Board of Directors who formally adopt it as an ALEC model. Despite accusations of secrecy every model policy is available on the ALEC website. [7]

Left-Wing Attacks

Left-wing groups including Common Cause, the Center for Media and Democracy, and various labor unions including the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) have been launching pressure campaigns against ALEC and its members for many years. The largest and most notable to date was launched after the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin. Citing ALEC’s support of self-defense laws, left-wing groups began pressuring board members of corporations to drop their support of ALEC. This led to a flurry of negative media attention and several companies publicly distancing themselves from the group. [8]

The groups most active in the opposition campaigns against ALEC were Color Of Change, Center for Media and Democracy (which maintains a website called ALEC Exposed), Common Cause, and Jane Carter (a staffer for the powerful AFSCME government worker labor union). These attacks continued for several years, spanned several issues, led to some companies dropping their ALEC memberships, and increased the public profile of ALEC among the general public. [9]

Attacks against ALEC have been roundly criticized by the conservative and free-market community and were featured prominently in Wall Street Journal commentator Kimberley Strassel’s 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech. Strassel details the pressure campaign of groups including Color of Change issuing letters to Board Members of corporations that were ALEC members threatening to boycott their companies. [10]

Strassel also describes an attempt by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) to send a threatening letter to hundreds of companies suspected of being tied to ALEC, demanding to know if they had donated to the organization. [11]

People

ALEC is led by CEO Lisa B. Nelson, who joined the organization in 2014. Previously, Nelson served as the Head of Global Government Relations for Visa, and worked for U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia). Nelson became CEO in the midst of a second round of public pressure campaigns against ALEC and has been credited with returning ALEC to stable ground after some companies left the organization. [12]

ALEC also boasts many prominent alumni who were ALEC members while serving in their state legislatures. In the 2016 Republican Presidential Primaries, 4 of the 17 candidates, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), and then-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), had been ALEC members while serving in their respective states’ legislatures. [13]

Former Trump administration Vice President Mike Pence (R) is a longtime supporter of ALEC and attended meetings as a think tank member of ALEC when he was President of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation. [14]

References

  1. “About”. American Legislative Exchange Council. Accessed October 27, 2017 www.alec.org/about ^
  2. Greenblatt, Alan. “NCSL: Too Liberal”. Governing Magazine. July 29, 2009. Accessed November 4, 2017. http://www.governing.com/blogs/view/NCSL-Too-Liberal.html ^
  3. Bishop, Bill. “The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded American Is Tearing Us Apart”. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 203. ISBN 0547525192. ^
  4. “About”. American Legislative Exchange Council. Accessed October 27, 2017 www.alec.org/about ^
  5. “Meetings”. American Legislative Exchange Council. Accessed October 27, 2017 www.alec.org/meetings ^
  6. “Task Forces”. American Legislative Exchange Council. Accessed October 27, 2017 www.alec.org/task-force ^
  7. “Model Policies”. American Legislative Exchange Council. Accessed October 27, 2017 www.alec.org/model-policy ^
  8. Strassel, Kimberly. The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech. New York: Twelve. 2016. ^
  9. Strassel, Kimberly. The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech. New York: Twelve. 2016. ^
  10. Strassel, Kimberly. The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech. New York: Twelve. 2016. ^
  11. Strassel, Kimberly. The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech. New York: Twelve. 2016. ^
  12. Hays, Charlotte. “ALEC CEO Lisa B. Nelson”. Independent Women’s Forum. March 24, 2015. Accessed November 4, 2017. http://www.iwf.org/modern-feminist/2796644/Lisa-B.-Nelson ^
  13. “Alumni”. American Legislative Exchange Council. Accessed October 27, 2017 www.alec.org/alumni ^
  14. Moll, Karly “Indiana Gov-elect Mike Pence: Profile”. USA Today. November 7, 2012 Accessed November 4, 2012. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2012/11/07/pence-indiana-governor-profile/1690049/ ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: March 1, 1977

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $10,352,239 $10,237,195 $6,438,760 $2,167,717 N $8,765,064 $1,104,038 $6,463 $1,004,261 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $10,345,179 $9,056,582 $6,875,636 $2,719,637 N $8,873,957 $990,608 $3,897 $957,889
    2015 Dec Form 990 $8,984,128 $8,376,348 $5,107,279 $2,239,877 N $7,393,600 $1,110,806 $2,971 $956,426 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $7,795,674 $7,734,819 $4,731,499 $2,471,877 N $6,231,036 $1,085,359 $2,528 $853,855 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $7,322,531 $8,510,952 $4,838,138 $2,639,371 N $5,825,882 $1,176,337 $2,226 $487,662 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $8,425,051 $8,642,647 $4,855,087 $1,467,899 Y $7,216,208 $1,200,481 $4,264 $535,533 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $7,171,357 $5,874,206 $4,047,129 $2,554,889 Y $5,997,347 $1,166,804 $6,889 $322,259 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

    2900 CRYSTAL DR STE 600
    ARLINGTON, VA 22202-3595