Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Letters

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Letters

Article excerpt

ALEC

Taxpayers contribute

In an Aug. 28 blog post, Dave Trabert of the Kansas Policy Institute noted the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) "does not charge dues to taxpayers; only individual members pay dues." Trabert's comments would lead readers to believe ALEC is not taxpayer funded. That, of course, is incorrect.

News reports from 2014 and 2015 show Kansas taxpayers paid for legislators to travel to and attend ALEC meetings. At these meetings, which are off-limits to the public and press, legislators and corporate lobbyists sit behind closed doors to draft and approve "model" bills that impact everything from education and wages to the environment, often benefiting the corporations' bottom line.

Kansas taxpayers paid $7,300 in July for legislators to attend ALEC's 2015 annual meeting at a resort hotel in San Diego. Records obtained by Common Cause indicate legislators were also reimbursed nearly $10,000 for traveling to ALEC meetings in 2012 and 2013.

Taxpayers are also footing the bill for ALEC's lobbying. Since ALEC is registered as a charity, corporations that fund ALEC are eligible for a tax write-off. Due to this taxpayer-subsidized lobbying scheme, Common Cause has filed a whistleblower complaint against ALEC to the IRS, charging the organization with tax fraud.

ALEC is not new to Kansas. Art Laffer, an economic adviser to Gov. Sam Brownback, sits on ALEC's board of scholars and Brownback was a speaker at ALEC's spring 2014 meeting in Kansas City. House Speaker Ray Merrick and Senate President Susan Wagle sit on ALEC's board of directors, while the Wichita-based Koch Industries sits on ALEC's corporate advisory board.

If Kansas legislators really want to work more efficiently, as Trabert suggests, a good place to start would be to listen to the needs of everyday Kansas citizens, instead of the special interests at ALEC.

JAY RIESTENBERG, Washington, D.C.

research analyst, Common Cause

PLANNED PARENTHOOD

Eliminate funding

The recent videos of Planned Parenthood senior staff discussing their ability to obtain and sell intact fetuses is beyond disturbing. …

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