ALEC Watch: New Report Details Impact of Secretive Organization, Empowers Iowans to Take Action

alecRead the full report:

Des Moines, Iowa — Progress Iowa released a new research report today, entitled ALEC Watch. The report provides research about the background of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, and details the organization’s influence on Iowa lawmakers and the legislative process in Iowa.

Progress Iowa also launched an ALEC hotline; concerned Iowans are encouraged to use the information in today’s report and monitor their state and local government for ALEC’s influence, then call (515) 428-1556 or by email at


“ALEC is directly influencing Iowa’s elected officials and cutting citizens out of the process,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “ALEC provides private access to our elected officials for corporations, then promotes the legislation and policies they write together behind closed doors. We hope every Iowan reads the report, and uses the information to be on the lookout for ALEC’s influence all across our state.”

ALEC Watch was released at an event held in the state capitol today, featuring local leaders speaking out about the organization. Senator Joe Bolkcom, and Representative Marti Anderson joined Sinovic and supporters of Progress Iowa in speaking out against ALEC, a group that has been described as “stealth lobbyists” for its clandestine pursuit of a corporate agenda across the country.


Key findings in the report include:

  • ALEC appears to be on the decline, but the organization continues to reinvent itself and adapt.Thanks to transparency efforts across the country, ALEC’s corporate membership may be on the decline. Leaked documents and public statements show that 100 corporate members have left ALEC, forcing a budget crisis for the organization. The corporate exodus has continued recently, with companies like Google, and eBay leaving. ALEC has responded by discussing moving to attract new corporate industries, and recently created an effort to influence local government officials en masse and advance ALEC’s agenda. The ALEC hotline and statewide educational effort will empower Iowans to play a more active role in their local government and stand up to the influence of ALEC.


  • ALEC distorted its membership figures to the public. Internal ALEC documents reported on in December of 2013 show that the organization considers all 150 Iowa legislators to be members, despite the public denial of membership by every Democratic member of the Iowa legislature. ALEC’s response to questions regarding membership was lacking, and response from Iowa leadership was nearly nonexistent. Because of these discrepancies and, ALEC’s efforts to influence legislators in Iowa is more opaque than any other state.


  • In Iowa, Senator Ernst, Governor Branstad, and the state legislators serving in leadership positions in ALEC have received more than $563,000 in direct campaign donations from ALEC corporations. Due to the opaqueness of independent spending a complete total will never be known, but ALEC members spent more than $4.2 million in independent expenditures to elect Sen. Ernst.


  • ALEC model bills continue to be introduced in the Iowa legislature. Progress Iowa identified at least nine bills with ALEC influence from the most recent legislative session. Bills to privatize education, weaken consumer standards, and the annual iterations of ALEC’s ‘stand your ground’ model were introduced.

To read the full report released today, visit

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