Iowa Legislators Should Terminate ALEC Memberships

The following is a letter to the editor published Wednesday in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.   LINK

Representatives should terminate ALEC memberships

Imagine a scenario in which members of the West Branch City Council and chief executive officers from P&G and Acciona got together to have a backroom meeting and put together resolutions and changes to our ordinances that would benefit their corporations. The council members would then be encouraged to go back and pass these measures.

Mind you, this would be a private meeting and the public would have no input or knowledge as to what transpired. Sound pretty scary? Fortunately, this is not happening in my hometown of West Branch, or if it is, I haven’t been invited.

But these types of meetings are happening at the state level. In 1973, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was formed. ALEC brings together state legislators and big business for the purpose of creating template legislation. And these meetings are closed to the public.

The thought of CEOs from Enron or Monsanto having a hand in writing our legislation is scary enough, but to have these meetings in private goes against the very core of democracy.

Per information obtained from Charles Smithson, chief clerk of the Iowa House, every member of the Republican delegation is a member of ALEC by virtue of not opting out of such membership. Membership dues are paid by the state, that is, by taxpayer money.

I have no desire to have my tax dollars used as a means for big business to gain privileged access to our state representatives. I would ask Jeff Kaufmann and other representatives to terminate their membership in ALEC and reimburse the taxpayers for the dues incurred during their time in office.

David Johnson Councilman,
West Branch
Candidate, 73rd House seat

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5 Responses to Iowa Legislators Should Terminate ALEC Memberships

  1. Sandy Dockendorff says:

    Thanks for this information. My new first question at the next set of legislative forums: “Are you a member of ALEC and why shouldn’t those meetings be subject to the open meetings laws?”


  2. Wayne Sawtelle says:

    I also think the legislators should pay back the taxpayer for their memberships, and change the rule or law that allows them to use state money for partisan memberships. Can you tell us who the Democrats are who did not opt out?


    • Trish Nelson says:

      BFIA editor Dave Bradley was informed by Charles Smithson, Chief Clerk of the House at Iowa House of Representatives and Executive Director/Legal Counsel at Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, that the following four Democrats are members of ALEC. We have been contacted by a constituent of another Dem, who said their Rep is a member of ALEC, but we have been unable to confirm [update: 5th dem no longer serving}. We encourage everyone to contact their reps and ask the question, and if your rep is on this list, contact him or her.

      Deborah Berry – HD 22 Waterloo
      Brian Quirk – HD 15 New Hampton
      Dan Kelley – HD 41 Newton
      Kirsten Running-Marquart – HD 33 Cedar Rapids


  3. I have been following the Koch brothers for some time now. How much are those Memberships, the grand total that the taxpayers are paying?
    In my opinion, ALEC wants to make Iowa into another Wisconsin! I certainly hope Gov. Branstad is wise enough not to behave like Scott Walker!


  4. Barbara Higgins says:

    I happened to visit your website this evening and clicked into this story line. I am very concerned about ALEC and the effect. that this organization has on Iowa’s Legislature. I view this organization as a threat to our Democracy. It appears that this organization is well imbedded into Iowa’s political landscape just as it appears that they are imbedded in the political landscape of many other states.

    As you can see I have commented on ALEC before! I e-mailed my representative in Iowa’s legislature about a month ago. I asked him how many of our legislators belonged to ALEC and how much the dues are and if the taxpayers are picking up the tab. He has never answered me. Any other time I have e-mailed him about my concerns about other issues, he has answered me within 2 days.

    When I see legislation under consideration that favors the belief that customers should pay for the study of a nuclear power plant even if the plant is never built. Not only that but if the study is abandoned the energy companies get to keep all of the profits, I have to think that ALEC is behind this legislation. This is a definite threat to America’s Democracy. This practice needs to be stopped. Do we want to look like Wisconsin and go through everything these people are going through to get out from under the corrupt Corporate Control that they have been living with! The people of Wisconsin are not out from under the Corporate Control yet!!!! It is difficult to fight that big money, but they may be able to do it with their resolve and ability to stick together!

    In my opinion, Iowans should nip this in the bud now, before the situation really gets out of hand.

    Thank you for your time! Barbara


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