Common Cause files complaints against conservative group
- Blog Post by: Jim Ragsdale
- May 15, 2012 - 6:06 PM
The American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative organization cited by liberals in Minnesota as the source of a number of legislative initiatives, was the subject of a pair of complaints by Common Cause Minnesota on Tuesday.
"They're a corporate lobbying group masquerading as a public charity," said Mike Dean, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota. Common Cause filed complaints against the organization, known as ALEC, with the Attorney General and with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.
Common Cause, a non-profit organization that focuses on open government and citizen participation, questioned ALEC's registration with the Attorney General as a tax-exempt charitable organization. The complaint with the campaign board alleges that ALEC should be required to register as a lobbyist in the state.
The complaints are based on evidence gathered in an earlier national Common Cause complaint against ALEC filed with the Internal Revenue Service, which alleges violations of ALEC's tax-exempt status.
In response to the IRS complaint, ALEC Attorney Alan Dye attacked Common Cause as "a partisan front group masquerading as an ethics watchdog.'' Dye called the IRS complaint "a tired campaign to abuse the legal system, distort the facts and tarnish the reputation of ideological foes."
ALEC is a national organization of legislators and business officials that seeks to promote free-market philosophies and limited government. ALEC also develops sample bills for its legislator-members to introduce and hosts conferences for legislators.
"ALEC's primary purpose appears to be providing a vehicle for its corporate members to lobby state legislators and to deduct the cost of that activity as charitable contributions," Dean said in his letter to Attorney General Lori Swanson.
Dean provided communications from ALEC officials to Minnesota legislators urging them to support the ALEC position on tort reform and radiation therapy.
A spokeswoman for ALEC said the organization would have a specific response to the Minnesota complaints on Wednesday.
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