ALEC in Nevada spotlight

For many years, the Nevada Legislature has paid $1,000 a year dues to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), just as it does to groups like the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments.

But in the case of ALEC, the lawmakers were actually making a contribution of taxpayer dollars to a right wing political group.

This week Progress Now, a Nevada political group, released a report on the Nevada Legislature's involvement with ALEC, including detailed lists of money accepted by Nevada legislators, side-by-side comparisons of ALEC bill drafts with bills introduced by those Nevada legislators, and a historical look at how Nevada came to be a cat's paw for ALEC.

ALEC is a political group created under section 501(3)(c) of the Internal Revenue code. Through it, right wing millionaires and corporations such as R.J. Reynolds, State Farm and Koch Industries indirectly influence state legislatures by cultivating certain legislators with briefings and education activities. This supposedly protects the organization from having to register under state lobbying registration laws and also keeps its hand hidden. Instead, it drafts model laws that its state legislator members take back to their states and pass laws friendly to ALEC's corporate funders (“Corporate group gets scrutiny,” RN&R, July 28, 2011). Growing scrutiny of ALEC prompted by the higher public profile of the Koch brothers has led some corporate funders such as Bank of America, Bristol Meyers, Johnson & Johnson, Walmart and Wells Fargo to sever their ties with it.

The Progress Now report can be read online at