High-Techs Abandon ALEC, Fossil and Tobacco Wolf In Business Suit

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As Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Yelp and other high-tech Silicon Valley companies abandon the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a few facts need more emphasis to understand this wolf in business clothes, bringing “sample bills” to legislatures.

ALEC is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) “public charity,” as per its IRS Form 990s.  Donations to it get tax breaks. Common Cause filed complaints against ALEC in 2012 and 2013, but these take years, as do similar complaints related to Fakery 2: More Funny Finances, Free of Tax.

High-tech companies finally noticed problems with climate change policies at ALEC, unsurprising given the strong influence of fossil energy companies. But companies also were effectively side-by-side with Big Tobacco, whose continued existence requires nicotine addiction of adolescents, which only works by “rewiring” the brain during rapid development that ends by age 25 or usually earlier.

ALEC includes the usual think tanks that attack science and support both industries. Does ALEC have a monopoly on access to power? Can reasonable business people find no representation except through a group that is often anti-science, anti-environment and anti-health?

Perhaps high-tech companies mis-hired people in Washington, DC offices, as it was strange to see Google donating to CEI or hosting a James Inhofe fundraiser

Perhaps ALEC promoted itself as a sensible business advocate, akin to the well-known Silicon Valley Leadership Group, but ALEC is a different sort of animal.

Some companies seek to privatize profits and socialize (high) costs, risks or damage, so they naturally seek to “hide in the crowd” with others, use front groups or foster the TEA Party.  They need camouflage, especially Big Tobacco, from whom others have learned.

ALEC and Big Tobacco

The PDF at Fakery 2, p.37 and 41 mentions ALEC as a recipient of tobacco money, but that was the tip of the iceberg. The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library stores millions oif internal documents from tobacco companies. 

A search for American Legislative Exchange Council finds 25,000 documents, a hint at the long close connection, as seen also in this post elsewhere.

Just like the other groups in Familiar Think Tanks Fight For E-Cigarettes, ALEC has helped Big Tobacco for decades, but recently has become concerned with health and wants to avoid higher taxes or restrictions on e-cigarettes or other ncotine products.

Of course, higher taxes selectively discourage adolescent purchases, a serious challenge for tobacco’s long-term customer base.

Although slightly out of date, Wikipedia has a list of members, as does SourceWatch.  The Corporate Board includes Altria, ExxonMobil, Koch, Peabody Energy, for example.

An ALEC wolf would be more obvious without a crowd as camouflage, so let’s hope more companies find better routes to cooperation with governments.

Image Credit: Trevor Keen / Shutterstock.

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