Despite state budget crunches, many lawmakers are attending the
annual ALEC conference Aug. 6-11 at taxpayer expense, according to
Defenders of Wildlife. They will be joined at a posh Orlando, Fla.,
resort by platoons of lobbyists, corporate executives, and
representatives of trade and professional associations who give
tens of thousands of dollars each to ALEC for access to the
"As the nation focuses on the ethics of corporate America,
ALEC's corporate underwriters will wine and dine lawmakers in
Orlando in an attempt to influence state policies on a wide range
of key issues. Protecting corporate polluters from environmental
regulation is a major ALEC goal," a Defenders of Wildlife
According to a report by Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural
Resources Defense Council, ALEC is almost entirely funded -- not by
dues from legislator members -- but by corporations, trade and
professional associations, and ultraconservative foundations. In
return, ALEC, which touts itself as a membership association, acts
as a conduit for special-interest legislation to key state
lawmakers, according to the report.
"Influence peddling to shape government laws to suit corporate
special interests is not just a Washington phenomenon," Defenders
of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen said. "It is just as
aggressive if not as visible in the states. Especially now as the
nation demands greater corporate responsibility, it's time
to shine the public spotlight on how ALEC allows major corporations
to exercise corrosive, secretive and highly influential power on
ALEC's major underwriters have included the now-disgraced Enron
Corporation, as well as the American Nuclear Energy Council, the
American Petroleum Institute, Amoco, Chevron, Coors Brewing
Company, Shell, Texaco, Chlorine Chemistry Council, Union Pacific
Railroad, Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, Waste
Management, Philip Morris Management Corporation, R.J. Reynolds
Tobacco and many other of the nation's major corporations and trade
associations, according to the report.
ALEC's own Web site, http://www.alec.org.,
promises "daily special events and giveaways" from corporate exhibitors in Orlando.
The agenda features nightly parties, dancing, a golf tournament and even a "cigar
reception" -- and all only minutes away from Disney theme parks, ALEC boasts.
"From the magic of Walt Disney World to the thrills of Universal
Studios to the excitement of Sea World, there's something for
everyone in Orlando," the ALEC Web site says.
The report by Defenders of Wildlife and the NRDC titled "Corporate America's
Trojan Horse in the States: The Untold Story Behind the American Legislative Exchange
Council" -- is available online at http://www.alecwatch.org.