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Iowa Lawmakers to ALEC: We are not Members

January 9, 2014 9:12 am by: 2 Comments A+ / A-

Iowa House Democratic Leader Mark Smith (D-Marshalltown) sent a letter to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) today denouncing ALEC’s claim that all members of the Iowa Legislature are members of their organization.

“Last year, all 47 Democratic members of the Iowa House informed the Chief Clerk of the Iowa House that no dues or fees were to be paid to ALEC on our behalf and none of us have applied to ALEC for individual membership,” said Leader Smith.  “In light of recent ALEC documents made public, we are deeply troubled that ALEC is currently listing us as members without our permission.”

ALEC is a self-described conservative “voluntary membership organization of state legislators.”  The recently disclosed agenda of the August 6, 2013 board meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council lists all Iowa state legislators as ALEC members. ALEC is funded in large part by donations from corporations with interests before state legislatures.

“Since neither we nor the state has paid ALEC dues, we question who has paid the dues on our behalf. Further, we question why ALEC would accept payment of dues on behalf of legislators who clearly want no part of your organization,” said Rep. Smith.  “If a corporation or other entity has paid dues to ALEC on behalf of Iowa state legislators, we believe such action likely constitutes a violation of Iowa ethics law.”

Rep. Smith demanded that all names of Iowa House Democrats be removed from ALEC membership lists and that ALEC disclose who paid for the Iowa memberships.

Below is the letter from Representative Mark Smith to ALEC:

 

Thursday, January 8, 2014

Ron Scheberle, Executive Director
American Legislative Exchange Council
2900 Crystal Drive, 6th Floor
Arlington, VA 22202

Mr. Scheberle:

The recently disclosed agenda of the August 6, 2013 board meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) lists all Iowa state legislators as members. This is deeply troubling to me as a leader in the Iowa House of Representatives, especially since this information has been repeated many times in on-line blogs and news stories.

ALEC is self-described as a “voluntary membership organization of state legislators.” As we made clear to the Chief Clerk of the Iowa House on the opening day of session January 14, 2013, no House Democrats have applied to ALEC for membership nor do any of us wish to become members of ALEC. Since none of us have become a “voluntary member,” I am concerned about how we came to be listed as members.

The Iowa General Assembly pays membership dues to other organizations of state legislators, such as the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments, but does not pay dues to ALEC. Individual ALEC members pay $100 for a two-year membership. Since neither we nor the state has paid ALEC dues, I question who has paid the dues on our behalf. Further, I question why ALEC would accept payment of dues on behalf of legislators who clearly want no part of ALEC.

ALEC is funded in large part by donations from corporations with interests before state legislatures. Iowa ethics laws in most instances prohibit corporations with interests before the Iowa General Assembly to make expenditures to or on behalf of Iowa state legislators. If a corporation or other entity has paid dues to ALEC on behalf of Iowa state legislators, I believe such action likely constitutes a violation of Iowa ethics law.

Consequently, I ask you to take the following action:

  1. Remove the names of Iowa House Democrats from the ALEC membership list.
  2. Identify who paid our membership dues.
  3. Explain why payment of ALEC dues can be made on behalf of a legislator without the legislator’s knowledge or consent.

If you misrepresented the status of Iowa legislators and we are not all considered ALEC members, I ask you to set the record straight by issuing a public clarification and by providing me with a list of those Iowa legislators who are actual dues-paying members of ALEC.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Rep. Mark Smith

Iowa House Democratic Leader

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Comments (2)

  • Username*

    Let me know who paid the dues.

  • Username*

    let me know who paid for the membership

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