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Carlson Takes Aim at ALEC, Seeks to Redefine Lobbyists

District 51 Sen. Jim Carlson (DFL) has backed a proposal that would define groups that distribute model legislation to lawmakers as lobbyists.

When it comes to the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, District 51 Sen. Jim Carlson (DFL) says he just wants a little transparency.

Carlson is one of several co-authors listed on a bill authored by District 61 Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL) that would define ALEC—and other organizations that propose "model legislation" for legislators as lobbyists. Such a move would require those groups to adhere to stricter financial reporting requirements under Minnesota campaign finance laws.

ALEC, a nonprofit, conservative think tank, works to advance the principles of free-market enterprise and limited government, according to the group's website. Many of the group's members are state legislators, who pay a membership fee to belong to the organization. The organization also draws funding from a number of corporate members.

For its part, ALEC distributes model legislation—as many as 800 to 1,000 model bills a year, according to a CBS report—to members nationwide for consideration. The group's activities made headlines last year, when the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida called into question the integrity of "stand-your-ground" laws—measures which ALEC had promoted.

Carlson said Dibble's proposal, if passed, would help watchdog groups better track the organization's influence.

“[SF 26] certainly is primarily directed at the group ALEC, and any that might form on that model," Carlson said. "Because it is primarily just a corporate-funded organization, and most of the legislation had some corporate influence to it, they were doing the bidding of some corporate members."

But Carlson insists his support of the bill isn't just based on partisan grounds.

“It’s fair to everyone, there won’t be any left-leaning group or moderate group that would be excused from this,” Carlson said. "If the unions decide to do something like ALEC did, writing model bills, they would also fall under the same requirements as ALEC."

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awm February 28, 2013 at 04:57 PM
ALEC has long been the lightning rod for this type of effort. The reason is simple: They are the most non-transparent lobbying organization active in our Legislature. When a known member of ALEC, former Sen. Daley was asked about his membership, he hedged, and changed the subject. Why? Could it be the Koch Brothers funding of ALEC that makes admission uncomfortable? I bet it is! The Koch Brothers and many of their corporate allies have EXACTLY ONE PURPOSE IN MIND while supporting ALEC - push legislation that will fatten their coffers and the he** with citizens who ultimately pay the price! It is time to trim that unbridled greed and cut it to size, expose its greedy sponsors and bring to light the financial support that drives the legislators who lapdog-like do their Masters' bidding. It is time to teach these dogs new tricks, that WE, the people who elected them, are their Masters, they work for US! And I like the balanced approach - if a left-leaning organization does the same work ALEC does, they ought to be included in the exposure and be transparent - we want to know who pays to get legislation on the books! Thank you Sen. Dibble and Sen. Carlson for this stand! Avi Senate District 51
Rosco February 28, 2013 at 05:39 PM
Great
Roxanne Mindeman March 01, 2013 at 01:07 AM
Thank you! It's about time! It's no accident that so much recent legislation in Minnesota and across the country is focused directly on advancing corporate interests and growing corporate wealth - at the expense of private citizens - us! We are entitled to know when proposed legislation is backed and funded by - and often written by - huge corporations and their billionaire owners - like the Koch brothers who fund ALEC. If I contribute $100 to the re-election campaign of my local legislator, it has to be reported. That's fine. If the Koch brothers and their massive network of corporate and billionaire friends, and conservative think tanks drop $100,000,000 (a hundred million!) into an organization that fights all efforts toward expanded health care coverage, environmental protection, campaign finance reform, and a dozen other things that private citizens overwhelmingly support - they have few if any disclosure requirements. It's no accident that they try to hide their involvement behind patriotic sounding names or unidentifiable acronyms - like ALEC. We need to make them tell us where all that money is going. And we are entitled to know when they are the actual writers of legislation presented by legislators (state and federal) who are willing to front secretive activities for huge corporations and their billionaire owners. Again, thank you!
ellen holmes lafans March 03, 2013 at 03:24 PM
Bravo, Carlson and Dibble for working toward balanced legislation. Bravo, that Carlson was elected this past election cycle! Let's get that legislation passed in Minnesota folks!! Let's make it more than a "little" transparent! Eagan/Burnsville people be alert that the past Senator, Ted Daley was non-other than a member of ALEC!!! Check out this article about our past election out here.....and who was behind Daley. Realize that this is still going on with some current republican legislators in our state! http://www.bluestemprairie.com/bluestemprairie/2012/10/made-alec-man-senator-ted-daleys-mysterious-and-generous-friends-so-want-you-to-call-him.html
Glen Bogart March 05, 2013 at 02:44 PM
I live in Wichita, Kansas, home of the Koch brothers. Besides ALEC, the Kochs were behind the establishment of "Americans for Prosperity." Some say the AFP is the founder of the tea party. These consevatives have taken over politics in Kansas. In the last election cycle, moderate republicans were targeted and replaced to give Gov. Sam Brownback virtually unchecked power. The result is an assault on health care, public education and the rest of the well-known litany of extremist right-wing initiatives. Kudos to Carlson and Dibble for taking a stand in Minnesota. For the sake of Minnesotans, I hope they succeed. Smarmy operations like ALEC and AFP should not be allowed to operate in the shadows.

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