For decades, some of this nation’s largest corporations have courted thousands of conservative lawmakers at annual conferences of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Along with the food, drink, and dancing, member attendance to the conference comes with access to hundreds of industry-drafted bills that their hosts would like to see passed by state legislatures and Congress.
And, like any good courtship, ALEC’s member corporations and associations were generous to their state-lawmaker partners when it came time to get serious about the relationship.
An examination of campaign donations made by ALEC corporate members dating back to the 1990 election cycle shows that they contributed $12.2 million to state-level candidates who were ALEC members, with 98.4 percent of that money going to incumbent and winning candidates, many of whom could vote on proposed legislation. Additional analysis reveals that $11.9 million of the $12.2 million went to Republicans. Click here to download the database.
Over the seven (10 for some states) election cycles covered in a donor-data analysis by the National Institute on Money in State Politics, ALEC corporate members contributed $516.2 million to state-level politics: $202.1 million to state-level candidates, $228.3 million to high-dollar ballot-measure campaigns, and $85.8 million to state political party committees.
Half a billion dollars. A serious relationship. It seems ALEC is not afraid of commitment.
Companies with an interest in today’s high-stakes health-care debate are at the top of the list of ALEC members who gave generously to state political campaigns.
TABLE 1: Health-care Industry ALEC Members: Contributions to State Political Campaigns ALEC MemberAmount Contributed to State PoliticsPHRMA$76.4 millionPfizer$21.2 millionGlaxoSmithKline$15.5 millionJohnson & Johnson$14.6 millionMerck & Co$14.5 million
ALEC members with a stake in environmental-regulation debates also donated generously.
TABLE 2: Oil Industry ALEC Members: Contributions to State Political CampaignsALEC MemberAmount Donated to State PoliticsChevron Corp$52.2 millionConocoPhillips$8.4 millionBP NorthAmerica$6.5 millionExxonMobile$5.3 millionKoch Industries$2.5 million
Telecommunications policy? AT&T gave $39 million; Verizon, $13.2 million; Comcast, $8.6 million; Qwest Communications, $3.3 million; SprintNextel, $2.5 million.
The bottom line is, all sides of corporate America met willing partners at ALEC conferences, sat side by side with elected lawmakers to draft industry-friendly legislation, and helped those candidates win elections to ensure that their legislation had the best possible chance of passage.
The top recipients of donations from ALEC corporate members reads like a who’s who of state politics: ALEC “alumnus” Gov. Rick Perry of Texas received more than $2 million from 268 donations made by just 50 ALEC corporate members, far and away the most of any candidate in the decade of data analyzed.
Other top recipients include long-time Texas State Representative Tom Craddick, who accepted $878,110 from 198 donations made by 46 donors; Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels with $659,737 from 197 donations made by 51 donors; long-time California State Representative Mike Villines with $347,796 from 214 donations from 84 donors; and Illinois State Senator Kirk Dillard with $320,289 from 357 donations from 59 donors.
The Institute’s analysis of the $12.2 million in ALEC corporate-member donations to state-level candidates who are ALEC members reveals:
- Candidates in Texas received more than $3.8 million, or 31 percent of the total, well above the $922,761 received by candidates in California, the next-highest recipient state.
- State representatives received more than $4.5 in ALEC-member contributions and state senators more than $3.4 million, all from a total of just over 10,000 checks.
- Gubernatorial candidates received more than $4 million, from just 1,050 checks written by ALEC members.
- Incumbent candidates—those already elected once to public office and making decisions about public policy—received more than $10.8 million of the total, or 88 percent.
- Republicans received more than $11.9 million of the total (96.7 percent) that ALEC members gave in more than 12,000 donations. Democrats received $392,136 from 571 donations.