By Beth Hawkins
Sometime in the last year or so, the super-secretive American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the group that helps its corporate and think-tank members get their wish lists into the hands of state lawmakers, decided to unilaterally declare itself exempt from public disclosure laws throughout the country.
Among other moves, it has taken to stamping a disclaimer on the ideologically charged bills and other policy proposals it hands to legislators: "Because this is an internal ALEC document, ALEC believes it is not subject to disclosure under any state Freedom of Information or Public Records Act."
Astonishing as that is, consider this: In Minnesota, their communications were already off limits — not because they are “internal,” but because the state’s lawmakers long ago exempted themselves from almost all of the Minnesota Data Practices Act.
To be more explicit, this means state senators and representatives may communicate privately with lobbyists or with organizations that specifically promote special interests, such as those of ALEC’s corporate and right-wing members, about laws the private-sector players want to see enacted.