The American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as “ALEC,” will gather for its 40th Anniversary meeting in Chicago on August 7-9. ALEC was founded in Illinois in 1973. The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) launched the ALECexposed.org project in July 2011, and since then ALEC has been the focus of increased public scrutiny over its role in promoting controversial legislation, including “Stand Your Ground” gun laws and restrictive Voter ID laws that make it harder for Americans to vote.
According to ALEC, up to 2,000 state legislators and lobbyists are expected to be meeting behind closed doors inside the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago. Although ALEC’s leaders have told the press its meetings are open to the public, reporters have been blocked from meetings where corporations and politicians vote as equals, bounced from other meetings, denied credentials, and even threatened with arrest.
In its latest move to shield its activities from pubic scrutiny, ALEC has begun stamping legislation and materials it gives to lawmakers as exempt from state open records laws. It has also resorted to using a drop box service Box.com in an attempt to evade legislators’ open records obligations. CMD is litigating this issue in Wisconsin in a suit against ALEC’s National Treasurer. Read more here.
Outside the ALEC conference, protests are planned for noon on August 8, led by the Chicago Federation of Labor. On the evening of August 7 at 6pm, there will be a screening of the Bill Moyers’ documentary the “United States of ALEC” at the Chicago University Center. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion that includes CMD Director of Research Nick Surgey, who is interviewed in the film.