My Week at ALEC, Part 1: Lobbyists, Golf and Gifts, Oh My!

Grand America.jpgOpulent chandeliers. A 5 Diamond resort. And corporate lobbyists everywhere. The legislators attending the American Legislative Exchange Council’s annual conference in Salt Lake City sure weren’t roughing it. 

The annual ALEC conference last week at the Grand America Resort in Salt Lake City Utah featured legislators and corporate lobbyists coming together behind closed doors to craft and vote on model legislation to them be introduced in state houses across the country, like Virginia, with no disclosure of from whence it came. The corporate largesse was evident early, with scattered signs thanking (Koch-brothers funded) Americans for Prosperity and the American Insurance Association for providing snacks at the bar. ALEC definitely doesn’t miss an opportunity to squeeze corporate sponsors for money.

ALEC Snacks Sponsorship.jpg

Back in the conference center, the corporate logos were everywhere, including American Electric Power at the “Vice Chairman” Level:

Vice Chairman Level Sponsors.jpg

Anna and Lori at ALEC.jpgIn the exhibit hall, the displays belied ALEC’s claim that they have nothing to do with social issues. A joint Tuesday conference organized by American United for Life, the Family Research Council, and the Heritage Foundation intended to focus on the conservative fight against Obamacare, women’s reproductive rights, and gay marriage was cancelled due to lack of participation. (I know. We were sad too.) But those groups appeared to simply move their materials and presence down the hall. All three, plus George Mason University’s (Koch-funded) Mercatus Center, the National Right to Life Committee, Republican consulting firm Campaign Marketing Strategies and many more were set up inside.

Also an exhibitor and advertiser ($$$) at the ALEC conference: The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Not familiar with that name? I bet you’re familiar with their Virginia affiliates: Virginia Statehouse News and Old Dominion Watchdog.

Spotted around the conference center: Grover Norquist, of Americans for Tax Reform; Chuck Cunningham from the National Rifle Association (more on this next), and a gaggle of Virginia legislators, including Speaker Bill Howell, Senator Ryan McDougle, Delegate Kirk Cox, Delegate Jim LeMunyon, Delegate Riley Ingram, Delegate Kathy Byron, and Delegate Jimmie Massie.