Photo: The Comedian, Flickr

Minnesota bills traced to controversial corporate group ALEC

By Jon Collins
Wednesday, August 03, 2011 at 1:36 pm

A national nonprofit that’s drawn criticism for allowing corporations to write legislation directly with state lawmakers can be traced to bills introduced in Minnesota last session, including language that would shield large corporations from consumer lawsuits and undermine greenhouse gas reduction goals.

The bills were revealed as Common Cause released a report on the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is financially supported by corporations like Koch Industries and Wal-Mart. At regular conferences, including one going on in New Orleans right now, these corporations draft corporate-friendly legislation that is approved by state legislators on legislative task forces and then introduced at state capitols across the country without disclosure that the business interests wrote them.

“The work of ALEC shows how the Minnesota capitol is governed by corporate lobbyists instead of main street voters,” said Mike Dean, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota. “Dozens of corporations are investing millions of dollars to write business-friendly legislation that is being passed into law without public knowledge and often at the expense of the public interest.”

Common Cause Minnesota found a number of recent Minnesota bills that mirrored ALEC counterparts:

The ALEC conference in New Orleans this week includes workshops about pension reform, privatization of Medicaid and the benefits of C02 (in a global warming context).

ALEC documents and draft bills were recently leaked to the Center for Media and Democracy by a whistleblower. The leak includes more than 800 ALEC draft bills on corporate-friendly issues. The leak led to a series of articles in The Nation magazine and Pro Publica detailing a relationship that critics say allows corporate lobbying without disclosure, as well as rampant corporate influence in the drafting of legislation.

Common Cause is currently challenging ALEC’s nonprofit status. Common Cause President Bob Edgar summed up criticism of ALEC to the Los Angeles Times: ”Dozens of corporations are paying millions of dollars a year to write business-friendly legislation that is becoming law in statehouses from coast to coast.”

The report found that the 22 known ALEC-affiliated companies had directly donated $141 million to campaigns and candidates since 2001. Minnesota’s campaign finance laws limited the financial donations in the state to $151,000, with large amounts coming from Flint Hills Resources, which is affiliated with Koch Industries, and State Farm Insurance.

The Minnesota Independent previously linked U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen to the organization as a member of the federal affairs arm.


Kiffmeyer: 30 Minnesota legislators are ALEC members

Minnesota Reps. Kiffmeyer, Shimanski attend ALEC conference in New Orleans

Are you a member of the legislature or legislative staff with knowledge of ALEC’s doings in Minnesota? Send us an email:

Follow Jon Collins on Twitter



Legislation Authored Corporations Introduced During Leg. Session — Secrets of the City — Minneapolis + St. Paul
Pingback posted August 4, 2011 @ 7:54 am

[...] 4 2011 — 7:56am The Minnesota Independent has been investigating the local developments around a national non-profit called the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that brings [...]

James Carson
Comment posted August 4, 2011 @ 10:25 am

Have you ever actually READ the First Amendment, Jon? Do you understand the right of petition? It’s right up there with religion and speech.

Jeff Wilfahrt
Comment posted August 4, 2011 @ 10:32 am

What! No workshops on jobs, jobs, jobs?

Will there be training on how to focus like a laser?

Jeff Wilfahrt, Rosemount, MN

Comment posted August 4, 2011 @ 11:01 am

Anybody could put together model legislation. The real stories are Republican legislators are pushing bills as favors to corporate special interests while knowing nothing about the subjects of the bills, and ALEC is serving to allow corporate special interests to break lobbying and influence peddling laws. Maybe they found a legal loophole, but if what ALEC and legislators have been doing is legal, that’s a scandal in itself.

Cori Duffy
Comment posted August 4, 2011 @ 11:33 am

ALEC is no different than the Common Cause organization which has successfully lobbied the FEDERAL government for the sham campaign finance reform bill of McCain-Feingold, defunding the Vietnam War and lobbying to cancel the Star Wars missile defense system. But there is one difference between the groups; Common Cause is funded by the elitist George Soros, who earned his billions collapsing the currency of Britain and four other countries. Soros has done nothing to improve societies; he just works to destroy them. ALEC represents businesses who actually CREATE wealth, rather than destroy it. But let’s not let facts get in the way!

Comment posted August 4, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

I see you totally buy the Right wings BS regarding anything leftie.

Considering the disaster that Citizens United will cause, McCain Feingold did quite a bit to help. Sorry but the “Star Wars” defense system is a boon doggle purely aimed to send vast quanitities of taxpayers hard earned money and funnel directly to the military industrial complex. Ending the Vietnam war was a good thing. George Soros is a rich guy who made his money in high finance, no different from an number of people, however he did NOT collapse the British economy single handedly, There is plenty of greedy people who helped, paging Rupert Murdoch!

So your “facts” don’t stand scrutiny. Trying something besides “Faux News” talking points, next time.

Comment posted August 4, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

I thought the US was well past the day when there were people who still though the US should still be fighting in Vietnam or that money should be allowed to corrupt politics or that the Star Wars missile defense system is a valuable use of taxpayer dollars. I guess I’m wrong about that. Apparently there are some who feel we should refight the Civil War or maybe invade Poland.

But there is a bonafide factual difference between Common Cause and ALEC: Common Cause registers itself as a lobbyist and reports what it spends. ALEC is a lobbying organization which does not register as lobbyist and does not report what it spends. ALEC is another oriface of the right wing Wurlitzer which presents subjective propaganda as honest and objective truth. The problem with ALEC is the same as the rest of what comes from the right: lies and misinformation presented as fact. Just like the fake scientists ALEC’s owners sponsor to try to discredit climate change science.

I’m not sure why the right objects to George Soros or the way he made his money. PHRMA which is on ALEC’s governing board and contributes millions, patents medications and earns its “wealth” by gouging people with monopoly royalties. The Kochs made their money the old fashioned American way: by stealing it from the Indians and government contracts. Having a pipeline that can steal land from people to cross sure helps too. One could go on with each of the big businesses that lobby through ALEC. Is making your money from a monopoly really “creating wealth” and if so is it really superior to making money through currency manipulation?

Comment posted August 4, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

I can’t honestly believe that Cori would write this:
“ALEC is no different than the Common Cause organization which has successfully lobbied the FEDERAL government for the sham campaign finance reform bill’

The ALEC legislators – both Federal ALEC alumni (like Boehner and Cantor) and state legislators – are now in New Orleans spending three days sitting side by side with corporations to discuss, introduce and vote on upcoming legislation – that will brought back to Minnesota.. I can’t remember the last time MY legislator sat down with THEIR TRUE CONSTITUENTS – the state taxpayer – for two or three days to discuss OUR needs for legislature. The residents of Minnesota would love to have their legislator’s attention for more than 2 hours at a town meeting – but I guess we don’t have enough cash in our pockets to get that type of attention.

ALEC’s focus on corporate centrist legislation should be apalling to all Americans and all legislators.

So what you are saying is representative government is now – representation for corporations! Shame on you. This is so incredibly sad – that you write to support this travesty of democracy -

Comment posted August 5, 2011 @ 12:19 am

ALEC is “We the Corporations” instead of We the People.

Anyone who belongs to ALEC is a traitor to our Democracy. All citizens especially workers should demand these MN Legislators resign.

These MN ALEC members are working for Corporate interests instead of the citizens.
If you aren’t outraged then you are either too ignorant or too stupid.

I wish these MN ALEC members could be tarred and feathered and road out on a rail

Phoenix Woman
Comment posted August 6, 2011 @ 11:32 pm

If everything ALEC does is all above-board, why has it gone to such lengths to keep its operations and membership shrouded in secrecy? Why are Republican bigwigs so freaked out at the mere mention of its name that they try to punish whoever uttered it, as they attempted with Professor Cronon of UW-Madison? (

Comment posted August 8, 2011 @ 6:21 am

The difference between Alec and other organizations, is that Alec actually involves itself and the corporate members, to dictating legislature. Policies, and even giving out ways to “enhance” budget numbers. No other organization really does that. I have been watching “Alec” for some time now, I remember that they even had a “boot camp”.

This is not “We the people”, it is a form of indroctination and this organization wishes to “learn” our state/Federal Legislative policies.

Details About ALEC’s Connection to Minnesota Continue to Emerge — Secrets of the City — Minneapolis + St. Paul
Pingback posted August 8, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

[...] 8 2011 — 1:24pm Following last week’s pieces by the Minnesota Independent on the open secret of the American Legislative Exchange [...]

Comment posted August 13, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

Shouldn’t legislators who belong to ALEC have to wear clothing that identifies them as such? You know like the equivalent of sports fans dressed to go to see their favorite team. It sure would help make things clear.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.