The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a “free-market association of state lawmakers” that also resembles a conservative lobbying group, is facing intense scrutiny for its role in helping corporations influence and even draft legislation that has been enacted by many states, with little transparency or accountability to constituents. As of April 23, the legitimacy of ALEC’s public-charity status is being questioned in major media outlets, prompted by a submission of internal documents to the IRS by the watchdog organization Common Cause.
Laws produced or inspired by ALEC have privatized prisons, freed telecommunications companies from regulatory oversight, slashed some public school funds while diverting others to for-profit charter schools, and prevented public-sector employees from taking part in collective bargaining.
We used LittleSis.org’s “network search” function to generate a roster of 16 individuals who have leadership positions at more than one of the organizations that were funding sponsors of ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting. Network search is a sort of flexible interlocks search that allows advanced users to explore LittleSis data in new ways.
The ALEC network search query turns up some interesting names. They are hardly uniformly Republican – several, such as Kenneth Frazier and Suzanne Nora Johnson, are Democratic donors. Two others, Pamela Carter and Gerard Baliles, have been elected to state office as Democrats. One, Carrie Walton Penner, hails from a family/company that has recently become embroiled in a massive foreign bribery scandal.
If anti-ALEC organizers were to start targeting the board members of ALEC companies, a la OccupyTheBoardroom.org, perhaps they would start with this list. (Please note that a growing number of corporations and member organizations have recently announced that they have severed ties with ALEC, and others may soon follow, including some listed below.)
Here is a full rundown of the list and their notable connections/background – 2011 ALEC sponsors are in bold:
- Kenneth Frazier – president, CEO and chairman of Merck; board member of Exxon Mobil and PhRMA; trustee of Penn State University.
- Suzanne Nora Johnson – former vice-chair of Goldman Sachs; board member of Pfizer, Intuit, and VISA, as well as insurance giant AIG, think-tank Brookings Institution, and the American Red Cross.
- John F. Turner – former assistant Secretary of State under George H.W. Bush and past president of major environmental nonprofit The Conservation Fund; board member of International Paper, Peabody Energy, and American Electric Power, as well as chemical manufacturer Ashland, Inc.
- Gerald Baliles – former governor of Virginia; board member of Altria and Norfolk Southern.
- David Bronczek – president and CEO of FedEx‘s “Express” division; board member of International Paper; member of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, a Homeland Security task group.
- Pamela Carter – former attorney general of Indiana; currently division president of Cummins, Inc. and board member of CSX and Spectra Energy.
- Karen Horn – financial industry executive currently on the boards of Eli Lilly and Norfolk Southern as well as Simon Property Group and the National Bureau of Economic Research; many other past executive positions and directorships.
- Holly Koeppel – senior vice president and CFO of American Electric Power; board member of Reynolds American.
- Charles Krulak – former Commandant of the Marine Corps and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; current board member of Freeport-McMoRan and Union Pacific.
- Ann Livermore – board member and former senior executive of Hewlett-Packard; also on the board of UPS.
- Jon C. Madonna – former chairman and CEO of KPMG; current board member of AT&T and Freeport-McMoRan as well as Tidewater, Inc.
- James R. Moffett – chairman, president and CEO of both Freeport-McMoRan and its subsidiary McMoRan Exploration.
- Lionel L. Nowell III – former senior executive of PepsiCo; board member of American Electric Power and Reynolds American.
- Carrie Walton Penner – granddaughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and trustee of the Walton Family Foundation; on the board of the American Federation for Children and several education nonprofits, especially those supporting charter schools (California Charter Schools Association, Alliance for School Choice, KIPP Foundation).
- J. Stapleton Roy – former US ambassador to Singapore, China, and Indonesia; board member of ConocoPhillips and Freeport-McMoRan.
- J. Steven Whisler – former chairman and CEO of Phelps Dodge until its acquisition by Freeport-McMoRan; currently on the boards of International Paper and BNSF Railways.