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Frankfort Local News

National Progressive Group Targets Kentucky Lawmakers for ALEC Ties

A national progressive organization that’s pressuring Democrats to drop their memberships in a conservative nonprofit is now operating in Kentucky.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has spearheaded several national campaigns, like the push to recall Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker and with Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren’s U.S. Senate bid.

The group is also encouraging lawmakers to leave the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. ALEC helps draft and pass state legislation, and the group has come under fire recently for its involvement in Florida’s controversial “Stand your ground” law.

The PCCC has been working for months to encourage lawmakers in other states to drop their ALEC memberships. Now, PCCC state director James Ploeser says the group is focusing on three Kentucky Democrats: Gerald Neal, Walter Blevins and Kathy Stein.

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Frankfort Local News

Several State Senate Democrats Remain ALEC Members

Several Democrats in the Kentucky Senate have held on to their memberships in the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, despite national blowback against the group for its conservative model laws.

ALEC has been criticized for drafting conservative state laws, such as Florida’s Stand Your Ground measure, and then helping lawmakers pass them. Until this year, 10 of the 15 Democratic state senators in Kentucky were members of ALEC. Six have recently allowed their memberships to be automatically renewed by the Legislative Research Commission.

Four lawmakers, Denise Harper-Angel, Tim Shaughnessy, Kathy Stein and Ray Jones, requested to leave ALEC.

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Frankfort Local News

Kentucky ALEC Co-Chair Says Challenge to Tax Exemption Unlikely to Change IRS Status

A national battle between two legislative groups has reached Kentucky.

The advocacy group Common Cause is asking federal agencies to remove the non-profit tax-exempt status of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.  ALEC provides lawmakers with sample legislation and talking points, often to promote conservative issues, and Common Cause says the organization is a lobbying group.

This week, the Kentucky affiliate of Common Cause filed a similar request to remove ALEC’s non-profit status with the Kentucky Attorney General’s office.

But Kentucky’s ALEC co-chair , Senator Tom Buford, says he doesn’t believe the request has merit.

“(It’s) never a bad idea to challenge, you know, these issues that they present, that’s OK. I think they have to be open-minded to those. But even Common Cause could be in the same area, many say they promote a certain agenda,” Buford says.

Buford says Common Cause could be considered a Democratic group, whereas ALEC is being targeted as a Republican group. He doesn’t think ALEC’s non-profit status is at risk–either nationally or at the state level–because the IRS vets exemptions fairly rigorously.

“So I would say, if the Attorney General decided to take a look at this, I don’t know that he would rule on it or not, it would be difficult I would assume for him to determine that the Internal Revenue Service has not done due diligence to grant a tax exempt status for a non-profit organization,” he says.

Previously, Buford’s co-chair, state representative Mike Harmon, said that ALEC does not have much influence in Kentucky due to it’s low membership and the political split of Kentucky’s two legislative chambers. Many state senators are current or past members of ALEC, but the group’s legislation rarely passes the state House.

But the head of Common Cause Kentucky disputes Buford’s comparison between the two groups as fair. Richard Beliles says the two groups don’t operate their finances the same way and Common Cause does not say their membership dues are tax exempt.

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Frankfort Local News

State Co-Chair Says ALEC Initiatives Don’t Go Far in Kentucky

A controversial national legislative group may not have the same pull in Kentucky as it does in other states.

For weeks, the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, has been under fire for its work pushing model state laws. The group has been linked to “stand your ground” gun laws, which have been in the news since the shooting death of a Florida teenager in February.

Many of ALEC’s corporate members, including Kentucky-based Yum Brands, have ended their association with the group.

But State Representative and ALEC Kentucky co-chair Mike Harmon says the group’s influence in Frankfort is minimal. He says most state representatives don’t like ALEC, so its model legislation doesn’t go very far.