KBOO received a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism to do an investigation on the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, in Oregon.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a tax-exempt, 501(c)3 charitable organization that has existed since the 1960s. In recent years, it has become infamous in its efforts to influence members of state legislatures throughout the country to adopt model legislation ALEC creates through various industry "task forces" that focus on corporate interests. Although the most famous of these, the so called "Stand Your Ground" law, received much attention in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, many others quietly become law. Examples range from legislation that prevents farmers from protesting the nearby plantings of genetically modified seeds to requiring users of solar panels to pay a subsidy to utility companies. Other task forces highlight efforts to, among others, reduce the advocacy of labor, to increase the prevalence of private prisons and to inhibit the ability of states to dictate protocols for identifying railcar contents.
The official project page, with audio and transcripts, a database of Oregon ALEC bills, a map of ALEC affliated districts, ALEC model bills, Oregon legislation, and useful links, is here: smartalec.kboo.fm
This project was led by Don Merrill, with additional reporting by Sam Bouman, Mike Klepfer, Yana Maximova and Sam Smith.