Skip to main content

Five Texas lawmakers have accepted more than $7,600 in corporate-funded “scholarships” to cover the cost of air fares, hotel rooms and other travel expenses to attend meetings of the American Legislative Exchange Council, (ALEC), a corporate lobbying group, according to new research by Common Cause.

Over a five-year span, State Reps. Tom Craddick (R), Linda Harper Brown (R), John Otto (R), and Phil King (R) and Sen. Larry Taylor (R), received payments of $250 to $1,920, for a total of $7,682, the research indicates. Most of the expenses were reported by King, who disclosed taking $5,142.46 from ALEC last year.

ALEC “scholarships” cover travel expenses for legislators to attend ALEC’s closed-to-the-public conferences. While the legislators disclose that the funding comes from ALEC, a report by Common Cause, the Center for Media and Democracy, and DBA Press indicates that the real sources are corporations and that the lawmakers involved are aware of which companies are picking up the tab.  The corporate-financed slush funds are another way ALEC hides its influence in state capitols across the country. Taxpayers also often pick up the tab for their legislators to be wined and dined by corporate lobbyists at ALEC, as Texas lawmakers often get reimbursed from the state for attending ALEC conferences.

Previous corporate funders of ALEC scholarships in Texas include Bayer HealthCare, Novartis, Eli Libby, the Texas Association of Dairyman, and UST Public Affairs. Other ALEC member corporations and nonprofits based in Texas include ExxonMobil, AT&T, ConocoPhillips, Shell Oil, BP North America, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

ALEC’s annual conference in Dallas begins July 30. Texas politicians set to speak include Gov. Rick Perry, House Speaker Joe Straus, and Attorney General Greg Abbott. While conference sessions in which elected lawmakers and corporate lobbyists join forces to write “model” bills for ALEC are closed to the public and press, citizen activists have organized informational panels, teach-ins, rallies, and film screenings of The United States of ALEC in the Dallas area.

ALEC is the force behind hundreds of state laws privatizing public schools and prisons, weakening clean air and clean water laws and undercutting workers’ rights. Common Cause has filed a tax “whistleblower” complaint against ALEC with the Internal Revenue Service, accusing the group of violating the terms of its tax-exempt status. ALEC is registered with the IRS as a charity but operates as a lobby for its corporate members.

This article was originally published on Common Cause's Democracy Wire.

Originally posted to JayRiestenberg on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 11:24 AM PDT.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site