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ALEC corporations pay big to Congress

The twenty-three corporations on the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) board are big spenders in Washington, pressuring federal departments like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), targeting congressional initiatives through lobbyists and giving generously to individual members of Congress.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets blog, companies including AT&T, Exxon Mobil, Kraft, Coca-Cola and the infamous Koch Industries that are part of ALEC’s “private enterprise board” have spent millions on these tactics to influence local and national government.

“Legislators welcome their private sector counterparts to the table as equals, working in unison to solve the challenges facing our nation,” ALEC’s website states. ALEC, a conservative grouping of state legislators and corporate interests, has come under fire for drafting bills, including Arizona’s SB1070, that benefit private business interests.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has spent the largest sum on lobbying –- in 2010, the drug trade group spent more than $22.74 million hired and 156 lobbyists, 59 percent more than any other company on ALEC’s board.

The congressional connection goes both ways: Of the lobbyists hired by PhRMA, the Center for Responsive Politics found, 120 were once federal employees and four were former members of Congress.

The Center for Media and Democracy, which leaked information from a whistleblower on ALEC’s role in drafting legislation, found a continuing rise in lobbying pressure from ALEC board members. Ten of the 23 companies had lobbied the EPA in 2009 while, during the first six months of 2011, eight had already done so.

The Center for Responsive Politics also noted that not only did the corporations pressure Congress directly, but individuals and political action committees (PACs) affiliated with the 23 corporations have given millions to candidates and committees.

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