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Common Cause report links ALEC to MN legislation

Jake Grovum//January 18, 2012

Common Cause report links ALEC to MN legislation

Jake Grovum//January 18, 2012

Mike Dean

Common Cause Minnesota has released a report linking dozens of bills introduced at the Capitol to a conservative lobbying group, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

In a report issued Wednesday — available here — Common Cause looks to link ALEC, as the group is known, with bills introduced in recent years that range from firearms and health care policy to labor law and government reform.

“Corporations are bringing legislators to some of America’s most exclusive hotels and resorts to share their wish list of special interest legislation,” Mike Dean, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota said in a statement releasing the report. “Our legislators were elected to represent Minnesota families, not corporate bottom lines.”

The report is the latest salvo in a continuing effort to expose and tarnish what liberals and some Democrats see as the unseemly influence of ALEC in statehouses around the country. ALEC’s critics have tried to label it a corporate-backed lobby shop that tries to portray itself more as a conservative think tank.

Some of the notable bills that the Common Cause report links to ALEC’s efforts include legislation to block a health insurance exchange, Voter ID, a balanced budget amendment, zero-base budgeting, right-to-work laws and the so-called Castle Doctrine. The 80-page report cites more than 60 bills introduced at the Capitol in recent years with ALEC ties.

As Republicans surged into power in statehouses across the country, the efforts to highlight ALEC’s influence only intensified. A previous Common Cause report said at least 30 Minnesota lawmakers were ALEC members and the influence of the group has grown in Minnesota, an issue PIM explored in August.

Republicans, for their part, haven’t been shy about discussing their involvement with the group and have said that on a number of issues it backs their already-established stances. Many of the bills line up with Republican priorities on spending and business regulation, they say. That rebuttal runs counter to the narrative ALEC’s critics often push as they try to paint the organization as more puppet master than helping hand.

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