Salon’s Alex Pareene calls the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) a “Match.com for state lawmakers and the nation’s worst industry lobbies.” Pareene thinks he has it all figured out,
GOP state legislators go to fancy conferences where they sit down with lobbyists and right-wing activists and draft right-wing legislation together. They return home and introduce it without mentioning the source. The lobbies then throw some cash at the legislators working to advance their agenda. Then, these days, the bill passes, and everyone else gets around to getting outraged about it, long after their outrage would do much good. Repeat.
Wow, this sounds downright insidious. How dare legislators introduce legislation without mentioning the source! Moreover, I cannot believe that these lobbyists actually throw money at legislators who advance their agenda. Thank goodness we have principled, liberal politicians who always draft their own legislation and never take money from lobbyists.
In the interest of disclosure, I have been a member of ALEC’s Education Task Force for the last three years and I have gone to these fancy conferences. By far, the fanciest ALEC conference was in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We were fortunate to witness the annual Running of the Tubs Race during our visit. And you should see the bath towels and soaps I used at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Hot Springs! C’est vraiment magnifique.
While ALEC conferences are dominated by GOP legislators, Democrats also attend and even introduce model legislation. For example, a year or two ago Senator Don Vaughn (D-Guilford) came to our fancy conference and introduced model legislation in my task force. Nobody objected to his presence.
Moreover, Pareene should spend some time in ALEC task force meetings. The debates can get intense. Those “right-wing activists” and “GOP legislators” are not always pleased with legislation proposed by lobbyists, particularly bills that constrain competition, provide corporate welfare, and/or increase the power of the state or federal government. There is nothing Match.com about it.