The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will not hold its long-standing Spring Task Force Summit, according to an email obtained by Documented through a state public record request. The event was one of three annual ALEC events where lawmakers and corporate lobbyists gather at high-end hotels to vote as equals behind closed doors on “model” legislation.
ALEC lost at least 366 politicians tied to the organization, including legislators who lost primaries, general elections or left office in the mid-term election year. Additionally, the organization lost several major corporations last year, including AT&T and Verizon, as first revealed by Documented and the Intercept.
But ALEC gave a different reason for dropping the meeting.
“[B]ecause of feedback from you, we will replace this year’s Spring Task Force Summit with six, topical and regional legislator academies already scheduled, and more in planning,” ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson stated in an email to its members.
ALEC held the event every year for more than a decade. In 2015, NBC WXIA 11 captured footage of the gathering in Savannah, Georgia–including a state legislator boasting about how the lobbyists make it all possible. When asked to see an ALEC task force meeting where Georgia legislators were voting on bills with lobbyists, ALEC had off-duty uniformed sheriff’s deputies escort the NBC investigative reporter, Brendan Keefe, and his videographer out of the hotel, even though he had paid for a room there.
The station aired the embarrassing footage in a segment for its “The Investigators” Series, noting that Keefe was a statehouse reporter. In response to the segment that capture the dissonance between ALEC PR and reality, allies of ALEC tried to smear Keefe. That Savannah incident is one of several in which ALEC has blocked reporters.
In place of this year’s Spring Task Force Summit, one ALEC Task Force held its meeting by phone. According to email correspondence obtained by Documented, the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force held a teleconference in February to discuss several bills and voted for them by email.
Photograph by Joe Brusky. Used under creative commons license.