Colorado ALEC Lobbies from Common Cause
What Is ALEC?
ALEC brings together corporate representatives and elected officials to create and lobby for passage of “model bills” that often benefit the corporations’ bottom line. The bills typically are drafted and refined at ALEC meetings that are closed to the public and press, then introduced in state legislatures, usually without any public acknowledgement of ALEC’s role in creating and pushing them. ALEC and ALEC member corporations often pay legislators’ travel expenses to attend ALEC conferences; in other cases, the expense is often passed on to taxpayers.
ALEC lobbies on a variety of issues, including taxes and budgets, climate change and the environment, workers’ rights and collective bargaining, healthcare, telecommunications policy, and education.
ALEC was founded in the 1970s but was unknown to most Americans until 2011, when watchdog groups including the Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause publicized its lobbying on behalf of vote-suppressing voter ID legislation and “Stand Your Ground” laws. Since then, ALEC’s attacks on workers’ rights, environmental safeguards, and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, along with its work to force the calling of an Article V convention that could rewrite the U.S. Constitution, have been exposed, along with other pieces of its policy agenda.
Amid controversies about ALEC’s secretive operations and agenda, and public pressure from Common Cause and our allies, more than 100 major companies have left ALEC since 20112. The departing firms include Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Kraft, Johnson & Johnson, McDonalds, Mars, Walmart, CVS, Best Buy, Hewlett-Packard, Walgreens, General Motors, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, Bank of America, Visa, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, eBay, BP, and T-Mobile.
Coors & Koch Foundation Funding
ALEC receives funding from private and public foundations, along from individual donors. Members of the beer-brewing Coors family, known for contributions to conservative causes, have been major ALEC funders. Tax documents from two foundations controlled and run by the Coors family, the Castle Rock Foundation and the Adolph Coors Foundation, indicate the Coors have directed at least $830,000 to ALEC since 1995.
ALEC also receives significant funding from corporations, nonprofits, and foundations founded, controlled, and funded by Charles and David Koch, the Kansas-based billionaire industrialists and conservative mega-donors. The Kochs regularly host conservative donor retreats at exclusive hotels and resorts in Aspen and Colorado Springs. According to tax records, the Kochs’ foundations, along with secretive, donor-advised funds such as the Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust, have funneled over $1.5 million to ALEC since 1997. The total does not include individual donations the Kochs may have made to ALEC, or any funding from the Kochs’ privately-held corporation, Koch Industries, and its subsidiaries.
ALEC’s influence in state legislatures is apparent throughout the nation and particularly in Colorado, where its model legislation has become extremely prominent. The charts on the following pages spotlight Colorado state bills, primarily from 2016-2017, that include language that appears to have been copied from ALEC model legislation.