Yesterday the Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) released a new report that details the exclusive network of corporate lobbyists and special interest groups that exert influence over the Wisconsin legislature through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

“This report reveals details of the extraordinary influence of ALEC and its agenda on the Wisconsin legislature and our laws over the past 16 months,” said Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy. “This corporate-backed agenda undermines the rights of Wisconsin families while advancing the agenda of huge corporations and special interest groups.”

The report released by the Center for Media and Democracy contains a number of key findings about ALEC’s deep connections to Wisconsin’s legislature:

  • 32 bills or budget provisions reflecting ALEC model legislation were introduced in Wisconsin’s 2011-2012 legislative session;
  • 21 of these bills or budget provisions have passed, two were vetoed;
  • More than $276,000 in campaign contributions were made to ALEC legislators in Wisconsin from ALEC corporations since 2008;
  • More than $406,000 in campaign contributions were made to ALEC alumnus Governor Walker from ALEC corporations over the same time period to his state campaign account;
  • At least 49 current Wisconsin legislators are known ALEC members, including the leaders of both the House and Senate as well as other legislators holding key posts in the state. Additionally, the Governor, the Secretary of the Department of Administration, and the Chairman of the Public Service Commission are ALEC alumni; and
  • At least 17 current legislators have received thousands of dollars of gifts cumulatively from ALEC corporations in the past few years, in the form of flights and hotel rooms filtered through the ALEC “scholarship fund” (complete “scholarship” information is not available).

In conjunction with the release of their report, CMD and Common Cause in Wisconsin are asking Wisconsin’s Attorney General to look into ALEC’s lobbying activities.

“It is time for the Attorney General to determine that ALEC is primarily a corporate lobbying group masquerading as a charity,” said Common Cause in Wisconsin Executive Director Jay Heck. “ALEC’s corporate members fund the organization to access and influence state legislators, and it is unacceptable to get a tax deduction for doing so.”

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