by David Safier
Steve Farley plans to sponsor a bill called the ALEC Accountability Act next legislative session. Basically it says, since ALEC functions like a lobbying group, it should be registered as a lobbyist and have to adhere to the same rules as other lobbyists.
It's a great idea. I'd like to throw the Goldwater Institute in there as well, but hey, one battle at a time.
(In his latest Farley Report, Steve also mentions, the current and, we hope, final redistricting maps put him in District 9, and he is exploring a run for Senate, since current Senator Paula Aboud is termed out.)
Here is Farley's explanation of the ALEC Accountability Act.
ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) is a conservative national political organization funded by large corporate interests that funnels language for right-wing legislation to conservative lawmakers in state capitols across the country.
Media reports have made it clear that the relationship between the ALEC and corporate special interests, lobbyists and lawmakers in Arizona is an intimate one. Currently, a quiet system of lobbyist-funded scholarships fund lawmaker participation in conferences that promote an ideological agenda at the same time as it provides fancy accommodations, upscale dining and entertainment "networking" opportunities in cities around the country. These activities are not regulated or disclosed in a way easy for the public to track.
ALEC lobbies Arizona's state lawmakers to carry out its right-wing corporatist agenda and it is quite effective in doing so, successfully orchestrating the passage of many of its bills relating to private prisons, voter suppression, the privatization of public education, and attacks on healthcare and environmental protection. You can read more about ALEC's influence on Arizona in this PDF report from People for the American Way and Common Cause: http://site.pfaw.org/pdf/ALEC-IN-ARIZONA.pdf
Currently, ALEC operates outside the regulations in place to limit lobbyist influence on our state's political process so the extent of their activities -- and those of the special interests that fund ALEC -- is unknown, even though it seems clear that ALEC is merely another vehicle for special interests to advance their self-interested agenda through Arizona's lawmakers.
The public has the right to know who funds ALEC's activities, who funds legislators' costs associated with attending ALEC meetings and conferences around the country and which legislators are accepting those funds. Arizona's citizens also have a right to ensure that, as a lobbying entity, ALEC complies with the laws in place to limit the influence of lobbyists on Arizona's political process.
My ALEC Accountability Act of 2012 will require ALEC to adhere to the same laws that other lobbying entities must follow. It is time to shine the light on who funds this organization and who funds the travel and other participation costs of legislators active in groups like ALEC.