Bloomington-based State Farm Insurance shows no sign of following other corporations away from a controversial organization that helps draft business friendly legislation. WGLT's Charlie Schlenker has more.
The American Legislative Exchange Council hooks up about 2,000 mainly state lawmakers with business experts to craft sample bills. Corporate dues cover the $7 million budget. Lawmakers pay token membership fees. State Farm has sponsored workshops for the think tank. A top State Farm counsel, Roland Spies, sits on ALEC's private enterprise board. Topics of bills created by the council include: use of after-market auto parts, anti-union measures, anti-immigration efforts, limits on lawsuit damages, and stand your ground bills. Liberal critics say the council violates 501C3 not for profit rules because what it's really doing is lobbying, or paying for access. More than a dozen large corporations including Coca-Cola, Kraft, and the parent of Taco Bell have dropped memberships. State Farm declined to answer GLT questions, issuing only a statement saying it does not make contributions to political candidates or PACS, but does participate in many organizations to have its viewpoint heard. ALEC defenders say the council does not itself try to pass legislation. Over nearly 40 years, though, thousands of bills developed through ALEC have become law.
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