Out of the Shadows, ALEC Loses Altitude

Some good news for a Friday 13: the list of donors withdrawing support from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) continues to grow, with candy-maker Mars joining burger giant Wendy’s, its rival McDonald’s, along with beverage purveyors Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co, plus Kraft, Intuit and the Gates Foundation.

As important as the financial hits undoubtedly are, the even more important development is the emergence of ALEC from the shadows, where it has always flourished. In state legislative circles, its influence has long been legendary, and not just among Republicans (as a tax-exempt organization, ALEC has always been extremely careful about getting at least smattering of Democratic legislators to show up at its typically swank events, though that was a lot easier back in the days when overtly conservative Democrats walked tall in southern state legislatures). But mentions of ALEC inside the Beltway drew blank stares until very recently. And the legislators who championed ALEC-written cookie-cutter bills in most states were able to get away with pretending they were the actual authors.

All that has changed now, for good, and for the better.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.