Founded in 1973 and known as ALEC, the Washington, D.C.-based group describes itself as “the nation’s largest, nonpartisan, individual public-private membership association of state legislators.” ALEC connects conservative state legislators, who pay a nominal fee of $50 for two years of membership, with corporations that pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to join the organization.
Corporate members of ALEC draft model legislation for lawmakers to pull from, introduce and pass into law across the country at the state level. The 300 corporate members include ExxonMobil, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Wal-Mart, AT&T, Corrections Corporation of America and Koch Industries, run by billionaire oil tycoons David and Charles Koch, major funders of the Tea Party movement.
"In short, ALEC is ghostwriting the law for state legislators across the country on behalf of its corporate clients," Ray De Lorenzi, communications director for the American Association for Justice, an organization of legal professionals, told The Root. "On the surface, their membership comprises thousands of state legislators from around the country, but in reality ALEC is not serving the state legislators. It’s serving corporate contributors who are giving thousands, if not millions, of dollars to gain access to these legislators and distribute legislation they’ve crafted that will push their corporate interests."