In the past year, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has lost over 40 member companies because of its role in crafting voter suppression laws, anti-immigration laws like Arizona’s SB 1070, and other conservative causes. Still, the group continues to be popular among lawmakers in Republican-controlled states. According to a report released Monday, ALEC has even made inroads in Democratic-leaning New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie (R) and other New Jersey lawmakers have apparently introduced 22 bills since 2010 based on ALEC model legislation. Christie denied the connection in April, when another report found many similarities between his legislation and ALEC bills. However, records found Christie’s advisers and conservative lawmakers in New Jersey consulted ALEC on key legislation, including:
The New Jersey Jobs Protection Act (S240) and a similar bill (S164), which would require all employers to verify whether their workers are legally qualified to work in the United States. The report said they were “taken nearly word for word from ALEC’s Fair and Legal Employment Act, which is also incorporated in ALEC’s longer and more thorough No Sanctuary Cities for Illegal Immigrants Act — the infamous model legislation that was introduced in Arizona … and led to protests across the country and a showdown at the Supreme Court.”
ACR103, which would allow a two-thirds majority in the state Legislature to nullify any federal law or regulation. It’s sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth) and Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris), co-chairman of ALEC’s state chapter. Handlin, who has said she is not an ALEC member, and Webber declined to comment.
The New Jersey Parental Rights Program Act (S504), which would create a publicly funded scholarship program for students attending certain types of private or religious schools.
None of the bills passed in the Democrat-controlled Legislature, and Christie’s office continues to deny any coordination on the bills in spite of the nearly identical language. His attempts to distance himself from the group is no surprise; ALEC has become notorious since their involvement in pushing right-wing legislation was exposed earlier this year. The bad publicity led corporations including Amazon, General Electric, Coca-Cola, and Walmart to drop their financial support of the group.
ALEC is funded by Koch Industries and has proven to be a good investment for the powerful brothers. The group wrote models for many of the most radical state bills, including “Stand Your Ground” laws, SB 1070, union-busting bills, anti-minimum wage laws, voter ID requirements, and efforts to block clean energy while promoting “the benefits of atmospheric CO2 enrichment.” In spite of their heavy reliance on the group, lawmakers are not required to disclose the powerful group’s influence as it is technically a non-profit and refuses to comply with lobbying laws.