After years of heavy flirting, a date at the conservative Heritage Foundation may be the place where the GOP and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) finally announce they are going steady.
The Republican Study Committee, a caucus of 160 conservative lawmakers in the House of Representatives, is looking to engage in an official partnership with ALEC, the controversial corporate front group. Thus far, the party’s partnership with ALEC has been informal, though wholly accepted. In the past year, 37 major corporations have fled ALEC and their model legislations that promote dubious overreach in the form of voter suppression and “stand your ground” laws, to name a couple.
Paul Teller, the executive director of the RSC, was happy to talk about the ALEC/GOP led meeting of federal and state legislators to be held at the Heritage foundation today. From Salon,
“Frankly, this gathering is long overdue … As Washington encroaches more and more into state and local spheres, it’s important that conservative legislators at the federal and state levels collaborate on policies to stop and roll back the ever-expanding federal government.”
ALEC’s ideology is the object of ire, to be sure, but they have also come under fire for abusing the limits of their tax-exempt status as a non-profit organization by extensively lobbying. Recently, Marcus Owens, the former head of the IRS’ Exempt Organizations division, asked the IRS to review and revoke ALEC’s status as a 501(c)(3)charity.
“To the extent that ALEC officials themselves are at this event, they are having lobbying contacts. … It seems to me that it’s probably a slam-dunk,” Joe Birkenstock, a lawyer who works with Owens told Roll Call.
Among the groups fighting ALEC are ALEC Exposed and Color of Change (CoC). Rashad Robinson, the executive director of CoC, spoke to RollCall about the emboldened relationship between ALEC and the GOP.
“It is really telling, As major corporations disassociate themselves with this organization because it is so outside the mainstream, that Republicans are rushing to them.”
Technically, the two groups can’t truly change their “unofficial” partnership status (even that is too brash for this lot).
Kaitlyn Buss, a spokeswoman for ALEC, said in an email that there is “no formal partnership with ALEC and any organizations.”
“Obviously federalism is one of ALEC’s foundational principles, and so facilitating a conversation about federalism is very much in line with our work,” Buss added.