ALEC Politicians Controversies
ALEC Politicians Controveries:
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
This is a partial list of ALEC politician's controversies. It is not exhaustive and is based on membership in September of 2019.'
- 1 Florida state Sen. Joe Gruters
- 2 Florida state Rep. Randy Fine
- 3 North Carolina state Rep. Jason Saine
- 4 Arizona state Sen. Sylvia Allen
- 5 Ohio state Rep. Candice Keller
- 6 West Virginia state Del. Eric Porterfield
- 7 Oregon state Rep. Mike Nearman
- 8 Kansas state Rep. Michael Capps
- 9 Washington state Rep. Matt Shea
- 10 Former Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti
- 11 Arizona state Rep. David Stringer
- 12 Alabama state Rep. Terri Collins
- 13 Alabama state Rep. Jack Williams
- 14 Former Arizona state Rep. Don Shooter
- 15 Colorado state Sen. Randy Baumgardner
- 16 Florida state Sen. Jack Latvala
- 17 Illinois state Rep. Nick Sauer
- 18 Pennsylvania state Sen. Bob Mensch
- 19 References
Florida state Sen. Joe Gruters
Sen. Joe Gruters' face is placed alongside images of "Unite The Right protesters" due to Grueter's role in what a coalition calls the "GOP Hate Tour." According to Thomas Kennedy, political director for The Florida Immigrant Coalition, “the type of rhetoric Sen. Gruters has used in the past is tied to the type of violence we have seen throughout the country.” Kennedy referenced Gruters’ Senate campaign which demanded the federal government “stop the caravan invasion and lock down our borders!" According to FlordiaPolitics.com, "Gruters postponed the listening tour after a suspected white nationalist shot and killed 22 people in El Paso."
Gruters attended ALEC 2019 Annual Meeting.
Florida state Rep. Randy Fine
Rep. Randy Fine was accused of denying the existence of Palestinians by Rasha Mubarak, president of the Young Democrats of Orange County, former regional chair for the Council on Islamic-American Relations, who is a Palestinian and Muslim American. Fine said “there is no ‘Palestine'" in the Facebook comments for an event called “Palestine/Israel, Opening the Dialogue.”
Fine, who is Jewish, also called one of his Jewish constituents a "Judenrat." That term "has been used to refer either to Jews who collaborated with Nazis in concentration camps." Paul Halpern, the constituent, said a Judenrat is "the worst thing anyone can say to me." Halpern continued, "I’m someone who’s been a victim of anti-Semitism much of my life, and there’s no worse name you can call a Jewish person that ‘Judenrat.’ It tells me about the character of the person who said it, especially since he doesn’t know me.”
North Carolina state Rep. Jason Saine
"Chaos in the chamber quickly ensued" after Rep. Jason Saine brought forth a motion to reconsider the state budget when "just over half of the 120 members were present to vote." Saine's "surprise" action was later called “an assault on our Democracy” by North Carolina's Governor Roy Cooper. Democrats were not present for the vote Saine called, they say that "they were told there would be no votes during the 8:30 a.m. session and that the session was just a formality so work could begin." Democrats say that they were in attendance at a 9/11 memorial, during the time, operating under the assumption that no votes would be cast at the time. According to the News & Observer, "Cooper said the legislators have put their lives on hold for the past two months, changed their vacations and even adjusted chemotherapy treatments to ensure they would be present for any vote."
The legislature only needs 61 lawmakers to technically be in session. To overturn the veto, Republicans needed a three-fifths majority of the members present and voting to override a veto from the governor. With 67 lawmakers present, only 40 votes were needed for the override.
Arizona state Sen. Sylvia Allen
During a "rambling, 25-minute speech," Sen. Sylvia Allen "expressed a worldview that the founding principles of the United States are under attack by feminists, secularists, and immigrants" according to the Phoenix New Times. Allen's comments were compared to fellow Arizona lawmaker and ALEC member David Stringer "who famously called immigration an "existential threat" and decried that there "aren't enough white kids to go around" in Arizona public schools." Allen's comments expressed concern over the population trends for white people compared to minorities. Allen expressed concern that the birthrates of whites could not keep up with the levels of immigration and stated that meant that as a country "we don't have time to teach them the principles of our country."
Allen was a registered member at the ALEC 2017 Annual Meeting.
Ohio state Rep. Candice Keller
Rep. Candice Keller posted to Facebook that a weekend of multiple mass shooting should be blamed on "the breakdown of the traditional American family(thank you, transgender, homosexual marriage, and drag queen advocates); fatherlessness, a subject no one discusses or believes is relevant; the ignoring of violent video games; the relaxing of laws against criminals(open borders); the acceptance of recreational marijuana; failed school policies(hello, parents who defend misbehaving students): disrespect to law enforcement(thank you, Obama)." Kellers comments led to Ohio Republican Party Chairman Jane Timken calling for Keller's resignation. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, "Keller has made a reputation for controversial statements." Keller is the executive director of a Christian pregnancy resource center which compared Planned Parenthood to Nazis. "She also spoke on a white power advocate's radio show."
Keller paid ALEC 2-year membership fee on March 17, 2017.
West Virginia state Del. Eric Porterfield
Following a "string homophobic remarks," including comparing the LGBTQ community to the Ku Klux Klan and hinting he would abuse or drown his children in the event they came out as gay, Del. Eric Porterfield faced calls for his resignation. In February of 2019, Porterfield told a reporter that “the LGBTQ is a modern-day version of the Ku Klux Klan, without wearing hoods with their antics of hate." In a follow-up interview, when asked how he would react to one of his children being a part of the LGTBQ community, Porterfield said he would “see if she can swim ... then I’d see if he can swim." In addition, Porterfield "reportedly used the slur “faggot” in a committee meeting."
The Democratic Party called for Porterfield's resignation following the comments. Mercer County Commissioner Greg Puckett characterized the homophobic comments as contrary to what the Bible teaches. "I do not condone, nor accept this behavior of anyone, let alone an elected official. Likewise, this form of antics in representation of my county is not inclusive to the people within" the commissioner wrote on Facebook.
Porterfield's political career reportedly began "after a dispute with his family’s OB-GYN, and the actions of a Mercer County magistrate who granted a protective order against Porterfield." According to Portfield, he was prompted to run for office after seeing a post from OB-GYN in 2016 favoring abortion rights. Eventually, the doctor obtained a protective service order from Magistrate Sandra Dorsey against Porterfield in court, and the Mercer County sheriff’s deputies confiscated guns owned by Porterfield and his wife, Jessica. That court order was dismissed as "Porterfield did not make any threats of physical harm," and all of the Porterfield's’ weapons were returned. Porterfield told a reporter that the situation first spurred him to run for office.
Porterfield stated opposition to a law that would ban the practice of conversion therapy on minors, calling it "bigoted and discriminatory.” The delegate has also argued that residents should have the freedom to fire or deny someone housing based on their sexual orientation. According to US News, Porterfield said that "it's not a legislator's job to legislate behavior, adding that LGBT groups are "socialists" who do not protect gays." He told the committee "We cannot allow discriminatory bigots to determine how our citizens are going to live."
A Charleston Gazette-Mail article describes Porterfield using derogatory language towards women as well and starting fights.
Porterfield was a registered attendee at the 2019 ALEC Annual Conference.
Oregon state Rep. Mike Nearman
Rep. Mike Nearman was reported to be a part of "the most dangerous type of white supremacist group" according to The Corvallis Advocate and ThinkProgress. Nearman, despite initial denial, is was vice president on the Oregonians For Immigration Control (OFIC) according to the Daily Beast in September of 2018.. OFIC is a "an SPLC-designated anti-immigrant hate group with ties to a prominent white-nationalist eugenics advocate" according to ThinkProgress.
Kansas state Rep. Michael Capps
The Kansas Republican party severed its ties with Rep. Michael Capps after the public learned that Capps was found guilty of child abuse in 2017. An investigation into the lawmaker by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) "affirmed Capps caused emotional abuse," according to ABC affiliate Kake.com. Capps was a court-appointed special advocate volunteer in the CASA program. A foster parent alleged that Capps "hugged and kissed the boys and allowed them to sit on his lap and rub his chest" alongside other "violation of his duties." According to Kake.com, Capps admitted to being "affectionate with the boys, but says he did not overstep any boundaries." Ultimately, Kansas "overturned the decision for technical reasons." 
The Kansas State GOP said in a statement: “As we have looked into (these) accusations and reviewed information from Mr. Capps and other sources, we must take preemptive action to sever all Republican Party support and ties to Mr. Capps’ campaign.” The Kansas GOP continued, “because of the nature of this accusation, Mr. Capps has been made aware that his decision to stay in the race is not supported by the Kansas Republican Party."
According to the Wichita Eagle, Capps was under "extraordinary pressure to resign."
Capps won re-election 54 to 46 in Nov. 2018. Capps was a registered attendee at the 2019 ALEC Annual Conference.
Washington state Rep. Matt Shea
Matt Shea, a state rep from Spokane Valley, Washington, has admitted to distributing a four-page manifesto titled “Biblical Basis for War." In said document, Shea writes "God is a Warrior." Shea also explains what are, according to the document, the necessary conditions for surrender in war: "1. Stop all abortions; 2. No same-sex marriage; 3. No idolatry or occultism; 4. No communism; and 5. Must obey the Biblical law." Such is followed by the instruction" iv. If they do not yield - kill all males"
According to the Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, Shea's document "is a ‘how to’ manual consistent with the ideology and operating philosophy of the Christian Identity/Aryan Nations movement and the Redoubt movement of the 1990s.”
Shea posted a video on Facebook admitting to the distribution of the document, but claiming that "it was a summary of a series of sermons on biblical war in the Old Testament as part of a larger discussion on the history of warfare."
According to The Seattle Times "Shea embraces far-right conspiracy theories, associates with a fundamentalist religious group in northern Stevens County and champions a push for a 51st state called Liberty."
Former Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti
Carlos Uresti was found guilty of participating in a Ponzi scheme. His charges were "securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to money laundering" in relation to his involvement with FourWinds Logistics.
Uresti was sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay out "$6.3 million in restitution" to victims of the Ponzi scheme he was found in conjunction with.
Uresti was one of the last three Democrats in Texas to cut ties with ALEC in 2012
Arizona state Rep. David Stringer
In a speech on June 11, 2018 at the Yavapai Republican Men’s Forum, Rep. David Stringer said that there are not "enough white kids to go around" in Arizona’s public schools and that immigration is both “politically destabilizing” and “presents an existential threat.” In a response to accusations of racism, Stringer said "Anybody that talks about this in this way is shut down and called a racist. I’m speaking the truth. Diversity may be a great thing, there might be a lot of advantages, I’m not arguing against diversity at all, but no country can be demographically transformed without any political or social consequences.”
In the aftermath of these comments, Stringer "had a hard time apologizing and providing a 'yes or no' answer about whether he is a white nationalist." Gov. Doug Ducey "and other top Republicans" called for Stringer to resign, according to a local TV news station.
Stringer was one of the ALEC 2017 Annual Meeting Attendees.
Alabama state Rep. Terri Collins
Terri Collins used her campaign funds to pay for and to receive reimbursement for trips. The Decatur lawmaker says that this is allowable, but some have compared it to Gov. Robert Bentley's actions which have been deemed in violation of state law. Decatur Daily reports that the Alabama Ethics Commission said there was "probable cause Bentley violated state law." In Alabama, the law is that "officials and candidates can’t accept campaign donations prior to a year before an election." Decatur Daily reported in April of 2017 that there was a reimbursement to Collins' campaign fund which "was not within the timeline for allowable contributions."
Collins is the Alabama State Chair of ALEC
Alabama state Rep. Jack Williams
Jack Williams was arrested and charged with "conspiracy to commit bribery related to federal programs, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, and honest services wire fraud" on April 3, 2018. The indictment from a grand jury alleges that the lawmaker was complicit in a bribery scheme. Allegedly, Trina Healthcare owner G. Ford Gilbert's efforts to push a bill through the Alabama Legislature violated the Code of Alabama's lobbying rules. The bill in question would have forced Blue Cross and Blue Shield to cover diabetes treatments at providers such as Trina Healthcare.
In July, a superseding indictment was issued, in which Williams was not charged. According to AL.com, "lawyer and prosecutors have said they Williams applied to enter a pretrial diversion program." As of Oct 3. 2018, the bribery case is still in court, with a trial set for January.
Williams was the ALEC 2014 Legislator of the year.
Former Arizona state Rep. Don Shooter
Don Shooter reportedly engaged in "pervasive harassment" which "created a hostile environment at the Legislature." A report, commissioned by the legislature, outlined accounts of comments made by Shooter. The Phoenix New Times highlighted the following comments from the report.
- "When Representative Michelle Ugenti-Rita mentioned breastfeeding her baby, Shooter allegedly responded, 'That's one lucky baby. I wish I was that baby.' Shooter had no memory of the comment"
- "Amy Love, deputy director of government affairs for the Arizona Supreme Court, said that Shooter grabbed and shook his crotch in front of her after telling her that he was "a sucker for the pretty ladies." The report notes that when Shooter was asked about the incident, he "stated that he did not remember the incident in question, noted that it could have happened, but probably did not happen, because 'Amy Love's not that cute.'"
- "Shooter allegedly told Adam Stevens, a Republican candidate, that he would take Representative Darin Mitchell into a bathroom and "ass fuck him" while his wife watched, and then Mitchell would love Shooter and would vote for him. Shooter said he did not recall the incident."
Another report from the Arizona Capitol Times detailed accusations of a range of inappropriate actions from "sexually charged comments to unwanted touching."
56 out of Shooter's other 59 former colleagues voted to remove him from office. Representatives David Stringer and Noel Campbell alongside Shooter himself voted "no." The legislature only required 40 votes to pass the resolution to expel Shooter.
Shooter was reportedly in attendance at the 2017 annual ALEC meeting
Colorado state Sen. Randy Baumgardner
According to The Denver Post an independent investigator found in 2018 that it was "more likely than not” that Baumgardner was slapping and grabbing the buttocks of a legislative aide multiple times during the 2016 legislative session. He has denied these allegations against him. As a result of those allegations, the Colorado lawmaker stepped down as chair of the transportation committee. Democrats introduced the resolution to remove Baumgardner from office. It was defeated.
Later that same month, an independent investigator found that "eight people's allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior" by Baumgardner were credible according to a Colorado NPR-afflilate
Baumgardner is a registered member of ALEC. He was one of the ALEC 2017 Annual Meeting Attendees.
Florida state Sen. Jack Latvala
Jack Latvala resigned while "facing a public corruption investigation and possible expulsion from the Florida Senate" in December of 2017. Former Judge Ronald Swanson published a 33-page report concluding that Latvala had agreed to "support a lobbyist’s agenda if she would have sex with him or let him touch her in a sexual manner" according to The Maimi Herald
A different report found that Latvala "repeatedly shamed or groped [women] and attempted intimate physical contact in exchange for his attention to their legislative requests."
Latvala's tenure ended on Jan 5, 2018. He was listed as an ALEC member since 1999.
Illinois state Rep. Nick Sauer
"As a result of the allegations” by a former girlfriend in 2018, Nick Sauer resigned as an Illinois state lawmaker. Sauer allegedly shared nude photos of an ex-girlfriend on social media with other men. Sauer was "tasked with helping find ways to prevent sexual harassment" prior to stepping down.
Sauer was a registered member of ALEC. He was one of the [ALEC 2017 Annual Meeting Attendees].
Pennsylvania state Sen. Bob Mensch
In 2011, Robert "Bob" Mensch was "found guilty of disorderly conduct for displaying a handgun while driving." Mensch says that he brandished the weapon in self-defense because he felt threatened by an aggressive driver. Mensch paid a fine as a result of the incident.
Mensch was an ALEC Alternate Member as of October 28, 2010
- Jacob Ogles Hatemongering or ‘invasion’? Immigrant Coalition demands Joe Gruters cancel ‘listening tour’ FlaPol Aug. 20 2019
- Nick Surgey REVEALED: ALEC ANNUAL MEETING ATTENDEES. LIST INCLUDES TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AND 2020 CAMPAIGN OFFICIALS Documented August 19, 2019
- STEVEN LEMONGELLO Jewish constituent targeted by state Rep. Randy Fine's 'Judenrat' comment calls for apology Orlando Sentinel April 16, 2019
- LYNN BONNER NC House member is next chairman of national conservative group ALEC News Observer, Dec. 11 2017
- American Legislative Exchange Council, State Chairs, organizational website, accessed March 25, 2014.
- REP. JASON SAINE AWARDED LEGISLATOR OF THE YEAR BY THE AMERICAN LEGISLATIVE EXCHANGE COUNCIL, NCPoliticalNews.com, August 4, 2014.
- Adam Lawson, "Saine named budget chair," Lincoln News-Times, July 20, 2015.
- STEVEN HSIEH Sen. Sylvia Allen Warns the U.S. Will Soon 'Look Like South American Countries' Phoenix New Times, July 26, 2019
- Scott Wartman and Jessie Balmert Southwest Ohio politician blames shootings on 'drag queen advocates' and open borders Cincinnati Enquirer August 4, 2019
- Ohio Secretary of State, search results for "American Legislative Exchange Council", sourced from Ohio campaign finance database, republished by Greenpeace USA on DocumentCloud
- Nina Golgowski West Virginia Lawmaker Faces Calls To Resign After Likening LGBTQ People To KKK, ‘Terrorist Group’ Huff Post, Feb. 11, 2019
- Jake Zuckerman Blind delegate to take office in January Charleston Gazette-Mail Dec. 25, 2018
- US News Delegate: Residents Should Be Able to Deny Housing to Gays US News Feb. 8, 2019
- Jake Zuckerman How a 3 a.m. bar fight left a WV delegate blind Charleston Gazette-Mail March 2, 2019
- Jay Sharp Benton State Rep Tied To Hate Group The Corvallis Advocate Sept. 5, 2018
- Kelly Weill GOP Lawmaker Is a Leader in Hate Group That Calls Immigration ‘Assault on Our Culture’ The Daily Beast, Sept 11, 2018
- Josh Israel GOP lawmaker outed as a leader of a white supremacist hate group ThinkProgress Sept 11, 2018
- American Legislative Exchange Council ALEC-FreedomWorks Legislator of the Week organizational website, July 6, 2017, accessed Aug 7, 2019,
- Kake News Kansas lawmaker accused of child abuse, tries to clear name Kake.com August 30, 2019
- STEPHAN BISAHA Kansas GOP Cuts Ties With Michael Capps After Child Abuse Accusations Surface KCUR August 31, 2018
- Peter Hancock https://www2.ljworld.com/news/2018/aug/31/house-speaker-state-party-urge-gop-lawmaker-to-step-down-because-of-abuse-allegations/ Lawrence Journal-World Aug. 31, 2018
- JONATHAN SHORMAN DCF says an investigation found lawmaker was emotionally abusive. He calls allegations false The Wichita Eagle August 31, 2018
- The Spokesman Review Biblical Bases for War Oct 25 2018
- Chad Sokol Washington state lawmaker Matt Shea defends advocacy for ‘Holy Army’ as Spokane sheriff refers his writings to FBI The Seattle Times, Nov 2. 2018
- Sourcewatch Washington ALEC Politicans Center for Media and Democracy, accessed Sept 2. 2018
- Patrick Danner and Guillermo Contreras Former state Sen. Carlos Uresti sentenced to 12 years in prison San Antonio Express-News June 26, 2018
- PHILLIP MARTIN 9 TX Republicans, Last 3 TX Democrats Leave ALEC (Updated) Progress Texas, Aug 16, 2012
- Paulina Pineda GOP lawmaker: Not ‘enough white kids to go around’ in Arizona schools Arizona Capital Times June 13 2018
- 12News State Representative David Stringer issues apology News clip via youtube, June 27, 2018
- Mary Sell Collins says campaign reimbursements were legal Decatur Daily April 7 2017
- Mary Sell, Collins gets Alabama spot on conservative policy group, Decatur Daily, March 21, 2014.
- John Archibald Jack Williams, ex-GOP chief Marty Connors, medical exec arrested on corruption charges AL.com April 3 2018
- Mike Cason Prosecutors deny misconduct in legislative bribery case AL.com Oct 3. 2018
- American Legislative Exchange Council Rep. Jack Williams Awarded Legislator of the Year by the American Legislative Exchange Council press release, July 31, 2014
- ANTONIA NOORI FARZAN Report: State Representative Don Shooter Created Hostile Working Environment The Phoenix New Times Jan. 30 2018
- Rachel Leingang and Katie Campbell https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/11/08/arizona-don-shooter-sexual-harassment-capitol-michellle-ugenti-rita-athena-salman/ Rep. Shooter accused of repeated sexual harassment of Capitol women] Arizona Capitol Times Nov. 8 2017
- attended ALEC 2017 Annual Meeting, Arizona legislators attend conference with help from corporations that lobby them at home, AZ Central July 23, 2017.
- John Frank and Jesse Paul Colorado Sen. Randy Baumgardner survives Democratic effort to expel him after sexual harassment complaint Denver Post April 3, 2018
- BENTE BIRKELAND New Investigation Concludes Sen. Baumgardner Created Offensive Work Environment At Capitol KUNC April 23, 2018
- STEVE BOUSQUET State Sen. Jack Latvala quits in face of corruption investigation, possible expulsion Miami Herald Dec 21, 2017
- American Legislative Exchange Council, ’99 ALEC Leaders in the States, organizational document, archived by the Wayback Machine December 8, 2000, accessed November 2012
- Monique Garcia and Rick Pearson Republican state lawmaker resigns after ex-girlfriend's accusations; Rauner calls it 'right thing to do' Chicago Tribune Aug 2. 2018
- JD Malone Pennsylvania State Sen. Bob Mensch guilty of disorderly conduct The Express Times May 9, 2011
- American Legislative Exchange Council, Education Task Force meeting agenda and materials, December 3, 2010, on file with CMD.