ALEC begins their 3 day nationwide meeting today, Wednesday the 4th. All of the big deals in the GOP will be there — including former VP candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Ted Shutdown Cruz (R-TX).
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which claims it does not lobby even though it creates model legislation that its Republican legislative members like John Boehner and Paul Ryan then implement, is concerned about being investigated by the IRS for their charitable tax status claims, according to internal documents from ALEC published by The Guardian.
The documents seen by the Guardian show that Alec is hoping to avoid legal, tax and ethical challenges by creating a separate sister organisation it calls the “Jeffersonian Project”. The new body would be categorised as a 501(c)(4) social welfare organisation, a designation that would allow Alec to be far more overt in its lobbying activities than its current charitable status as a 501(c)(3).
After losing corporate donors who expressed a need to contribute to a tax exempt organization and concern over ALEC’s status, ALEC (with its 501(c)(3) charitable status) has set up a new 501(c)(4) entity, the “Jeffersonian Project”. It will be able to lobby to its hearts content.
In the document, they list benefits of setting up the Jeffersonian Project as removing questions of ethical violations and providing further legal protection. They also clearly lay out how they will use the Jeffersonian Project to further their policy goals: “All ALEC Policy briefs can be sent out as Issue Alerts by the Jeffersonian Project, which can include legislative bill numbers and Support or Oppose positions.”
They continue proving that they are a lobbying group with this, “ALEC can again freely provide testimony on pending legislation.” “Lessens restrictions on our Public Affairs Department by allowing increased communications to the public.”
Included in the documents is a letter from their legal counsel advising that the main activities of the Jeffersonian Project must be devoted to the promotion of social welfare. They lay out that ALEC does not wish to be “perceived” as a lobbying group, and they do not wish to register as a lobbying group in any state. So for states with tougher standards, they will use the Project.