The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is the most powerful corporate front group you’ve never heard of. The group, sponsored by some of America’s largest corporations, writes legislation that tends to benefit its donors and ships these template bills to state legislatures for compliant lawmakers to pass. ALEC has pushed for legislation doing everything from attacking workers’ collective bargaining rights, to making it harder for low-income Americans to vote, to the Stand Your Ground law that could prevent justice in the Trayvon Martin case.
One of the reasons ALEC is able to do this is because it’s extremely secretive. ALEC does not openly brand the legislation it passes off to legislators, and its staff is mostly hidden from the public eye. Until now. We dug into ALEC’s personnel to make a short profile of just some of the key Washington, D.C.-based ALEC staffers who help write the laws that pollute our communities, deny Americans access to health care, suppress our right to vote, and generally harm Americans. Their corporate-written bills may be secretly passed on to legislators, but these staffers can’t hide behind ALEC’s veil and avoid taking responsibility for the laws they produce and advance.
Todd Wynn, ALEC’s Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force Director: Todd, who uses the photo to the left as his Twitter picture, came to oversee much of ALEC’s work to deny climate change and empower dirty fossil fuel energies after 3 years at the Cascade Policy Institute. On his LinkedIn page, he brags that he conducts “public policy research for state legislators across the country.” One of Wynn’s claims to activism fame is when he boasted that “global warming could be a net benefit for the planet in fact.” His twitter handle is @toddwynn.
Amy Kjose, ALEC Civil Justice Task Force Director:
John Stephenson, ALEC’s Director Of Communications & Technology Task Force: A graduate of Lafeyette College and Seton Hall University’s School of Law, Stephenson manages legislation that, among other things, kills off municipal public broadband systems that seek to compete with some of ALEC’s Big Telecom funders. His twitter handle is @stephenj05.
Caitlyn Korb, Director of External Relations for ALEC: A graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles and a former External Affairs staffer for the Cato Institute, Korb has been handling external affairs at ALEC’s D.C. office since this past November. Follow her on Twitter at @caitlynkorb.
Rob Shrum, ALEC’s Director of Corporate & Non-Profit Relations: Shrum came to ALEC from Tax Foundation and holds a Master’s degree from George Washington University. Tasked with communicating with ALEC’s corporate benefactors, Shrum has a very colorful Twitter feed where he opines on sports and D.C. food trucks, among other topics. Working with America’s most powerful corporations likely colors his views. “Angry about inequality? Don’t blame the rich,” was the title of one op-ed he recently tweeted out. Follow him at @RobShrum.
Kaitlyn Buss, Director of Communications for ALEC: A graduate of Hillsdale College, Buss tackles ALEC’s communications strategy. After New York Times columnist Paul Krugman pointed out that ALEC had taken money from major private prison companies and advocated for their anti-liberty agenda, Buss issued a panicked press release attacking him. Her Twitter handle is @KaitlynBuss. You’ll find interesting links on her Twitter feed, including a “frank and fantastic” article that recommended that women spend extra money on domestic help and Botox and get plastic surgery because it’s a “must-have career tool for the workforce of the new millenium.”
Christine Harbin, Research Manager for ALEC’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force: On her LinkedIn page, Harbin notes that she was also a “2011-12 participant in [the] Koch Associate Program at Charles Koch Institute, a management training program.” Harbin maintains an active Twitter presence at @idiosynchrissy.
ALEC is accustomed to hiding its agenda and its legislation behind closed doors. At secretive conferences and over e-mail chains the public never sees, the organization allows its corporate donors to manufacture bills and then send them to be passed in state legislatures without the public ever knowing about their origin. But these ALEC staffers can’t hide who they are, and what they do for an organization that harms almost every area of American life.
UPDATE: For more on ALEC’s staff, the corporations who fund it, and the damaging legislation it puts out, check out ALECExposed.org.