News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Meaden & Moore

Akron General

Knight Foundation

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us

Probing ALEC relationship with Ohio lawmakers
Progressive groups says the group has cozied up too closely with the GOP legislators and gotten around lobbying rules
This story is part of a special series.

Karen Kasler
About half of Ohio's lawmakers are believed to be members of ALEC.
Download (WKSU Only)

A progressive group says it’s concerned about the influence held in Ohio by a national organization of state lawmakers, lobbyists and corporate officials. But as Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports, one lawmaker who’s a member of the organization says there’s nothing to see here.

KASLER: ALEC's influence in Ohio

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:01)

KASLER: ALEC's influence in Ohio short version

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (1:08)

Imagine a conference in a big city at an upscale hotel, where a nominal dues payment to the host group covers things such as high-end meals, tickets to major league sporting events, cigars, even babysitting for your kids. And imagine that the same host group gets your work schedule to revolve around its events.

It’s just those scenarios that the leftleaning group Progress Ohio claims were created by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. ALEC is a non-profit organization of mostly conservative lawmakers, lobbyists and big corporations. It writes proposed legislation that ALEC says advances free market ideals, limited government, and federalism.

Half of Ohio’s legislators are thought to be in ALEC, which does not put out lists of members.

Unethical, perhaps illegal?
Brian Rothenberg with Progress Ohio says ALEC members get special treatment – and he thinks it’s unethical, and wants the state’s inspector general to investigate whether it’s illegal. 

“The way this is happening – the sinful way this is actually happening – is that they are getting around the ethics laws in order to allow corporations to have influence, to wine and dine, to do everything that we tried to get rid of in the ethics laws in the early 1990s.”

Single party, mixed duties
Progress Ohio notes that there are no Ohio Democrats in ALEC. Rothenberg says e-mails show that ALEC was able to rearrange lawmakers’ session dates around its conferences, and that a staffer in state Rep. John Adams’ office worked out free meals and activities for members at ALEC events that included lobbyists.

And Progress Ohio maintains that time together translated into influence, and then legislation;  the group says last year, 33 bills were introduced containing elements from 64 different ALEC model proposals, and many passed. And Progress Ohio says it can show that ALEC advised at least one lawmaker to leave out ALEC’s involvement in his legislation.

Breathless hype
But one of ALEC’s strongest defenders says there’s nothing new here. 
“This is all a bunch of breathless hype over nothing. They’re becoming increasingly desperate.”

Sen. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati is on ALEC’s national board. He says there are no legal issues here. And he insists that lobbyists are permitted to buy dinner and drinks for lawmakers at conferences because these events are exempt from the law that bans elected officials from accepting gifts valued at more than $75.

Seitz says same kind of things happen at events sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments. 

“You know, it’s been something that’s gone for over 30 years. It affects all of the organizations that we belong to – NCSL, CSG and ALEC. The fact of the matter is that it’s not all a game of roses. We are in meetings for almost all of the day, and this is our opportunity to interface with legislators from other states.”

Rothenberg says those other groups are bipartisan, while ALEC is overwhelmingly Republican. And he says NCSL’s top committee doesn’t allow lobbyists, while there are no restrictions on lobbyists at ALEC.

Seitz says two Ohio Democrats that have stopped in on ALEC events, and says there are some Democratic members of ALEC in other states, so it is not exclusively Republican.

Cut it all out
Rothenberg says maybe a bigger gesture needs to be made. 

“Fine, end the loophole for NCSL, too. Everybody should be responsible for being limited to $75 in meals.”

Seitz is challenging Progress Ohio to single out what it feels are the ALEC-inspired bills. And he notes that critics had blamed ALEC for what became Senate Bill 5 – the state law that would have ended most collective bargaining for Ohio’s public employees.

 Seitz repeatedly said ALEC did not write that law, and he was among the few Republicans who voted against it.


Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Pluto: The Browns split from Manziel is long overdue
Get Brock Osweiler from the Denver Broncos! He's fantastic and seems like a great person.

Democratic Senate hopeful P.G. Sittenfeld pushes for local gun control
That makes no sense at all... why not let cities determine driving codes as well? Maybe Cincy want's folks to drive on the left side of the road. What could go ...

Exploradio: Autism in the workplace
I would love to get more information re: Autism on The Town and other such programs in Northeast Ohio. Thanks!!

Human trafficking cases rise in Ohio
It is about time this is presented to proceed with a plan of protect our youth.And very necessary to inform communities through school, churches ...

Fermented food company aims to preserve Cleveland's farm-to-table movement
This is terrific! I make my own sauerkraut and consider it vital to good health. Well done, I wish you all success.

Ohio doctors get new guidelines for prescribing certain painkillers
I would gladly smoke pot to get off pain killers but its not legal.It would save the hassle of doctor visits for pill counts,pee tests,blood tests,driving to pi...

Ohio unemployment cuts are nearing a Statehouse vote
What about those that are laid off seasonally? My husband has been employed by the same company for 26 years and has been laid off (for the last 17) mid-Januar...

Ban on microbeads is a big step in fighting plastic pollution
What a bunch of liberal "so open minded their brains fell out" tree huggin yuppies. Professing to be wise they became fools.

Who's on -- and left off -- Ohio's medical marijuana task force?
Biggest joke everm these people are evil they know marijuana is harmless they rigged the polls last nov everypne kmows it

Dayton 'Black Lives Matter' protesters to appear in court today
Police to fast with the trigger finger and not the brain.A lot of police officers out here judge by color first instead of accessing the situation first. If a p...

Copyright © 2016 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University