Senate Republicans Make Taxpayers Finance Corporate ALEC Group

Despite Claims ''We're Broke,' Nine Senate Republicans Forced Taxpayers to Pay For Their ALEC Membership This Year, 12 Total Have Current Membership Paid for by Taxpayers

MADISON, Wis. — Twelve current Wisconsin Republican state Senators have forced taxpayers to finance their private membership in the corporate special interest group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, according to documents obtained through an open records request by One Wisconsin Now. The list includes nine Senate Republicans who had taxpayers finance their ALEC memberships this year at the same time they were voting to strip collective bargaining rights from Wisconsin workers and planning drastic cuts to education, health care and public services, claiming the state is in fiscal crisis.

“Senators like Dan Kapanke and Alberta Darling claim the state is broke, but they use our tax dollars to pay for their private membership in a corporate special interest group,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “The American Legislative Exchange Council is nothing more than a corporate propaganda machine and Kapanke, Darling and the other 10 Senate Republicans should immediate return the taxpayers’ money and apologize for this improper use of our tax dollars.”

ALEC was founded nearly 40 years ago to create pro-corporate legislation at the expense of the middle class. Among the many corporate and conservative interests to finance the group is the Koch Foundation and Milwaukee’s Bradley Foundation. All 23 members of its public board are identified Republicans and 71 of its 73 state legislative chairs are Republicans. [ALEC website; Media Matters Conservative Transparency]

According to records obtained by One Wisconsin Now through an open records request with the Senate Chief Clerk’s office, the following current Republican Senators have used taxpayer dollars to pay for the memberships in ALEC:

Senator Amount Date Membership
Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse) $100 2/1/2011 2013
Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) $100 2/1/2011 2013
Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls) $100 2/1/2011 2013
Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) $100 2/1/2011 2013
Rich Zipperer (R-Pewaukee) $100 2/1/2011 2013
Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) $100 1/1/2011 2013
Pam Galloway (R-Wausau) $100 1/1/2011 2013
Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) $100 1/1/2011 2013
Frank Lasee (R-No Address Listed) $200 1/1/2011 2015
Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) $200 1/1/2009 2013
Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) $100 1/1/2009 2011
Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn) $200 3/1/2008 2012
Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) $100 1/1/2007 N/A
Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) $200 1/1/2007 N/A

Not only have Senate Republicans spent tax dollars on ALEC memberships, but also there are substantial ties between ALEC and Gov. Scott Walker, as well as the Republican Assembly Majority. Walker has served previously as a speaker at ALEC, Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald was appointed Wisconsin Chair of ALEC in 2008 and Republican Assembly Joint Finance Chair Robin Vos is current Wisconsin ALEC chair. [ALEC website; Fond du Lac Reporter, 12/28/08]

“From attacking workers’ rights, to privatizing public schools, to fighting against affordable health care, ALEC’s fingerprints are all over Walker and Senate and Assembly Republicans’ pro-corporate agenda,” said Ross. “And thanks to the Senate Republicans, ALEC has its fingerprints on our tax dollars.”

Other legislation generated from ALEC’s pro-corporate mission also advanced by Wisconsin’s Republicans includes the so-called TABOR plan to defund local schools and governments, dismantling of corporate accountability and pro-prison industry legislation. [ALEC, 1/27/11; Wisconsin State Journal, 7/12/04]

“It is unconscionable Republicans are gutting public education by $1.7 billion, cutting health care and raising taxes by $51 million on the working poor to hand out hundreds of millions of dollars in special interest corporate tax breaks,” said Ross. “But it is outrageous to have taxpayers pay the tab so that one of the nation’s most powerful corporate special interests can have privileged access to Dan Kapanke, Alberta Darling and Republican state Senators. It may not be a fortune, but it is appalling hypocrisy by the Senate Republicans and in the end will cost the middle class its chance at the American Dream.”

One Wisconsin Now also noted that according to the IRS, in 2009, ALEC had revenues of $6.27 million and expenses of $6.61 million. In 2008, ALEC had revenues of $6.98 million and expenses of $7.44 million. This means, the group, which says on its State Budget Reform page that, “states face structural deficits created by overspending,” spent more than it raised the last two years records are available for the group. [ALEC website;]

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