Americans for Limited Government

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Americans for Limited Government
Founder(s) Howard Rich
Established 1996
Mission "Identifying, exposing and working with Congress and state legislatures to prevent the continued expansion of government."[1]
President Bill Wilson
Chairman Howard Rich
Location Fairfax, Virginia, USA
Address 10332 Main Street, Box 326 Fairfax, VA 22030

Americans for Limited Government (ALG), formerly Americans for Limited Terms (ALT) is a politically conservative[2] 501(c)(4) advocacy organization that describes itself as being involved with "identifying, exposing and working with Congress and state legislatures to prevent the continued expansion of government."[1][3] Its primary concerns are tax and spending reform, property rights restoration, school choice, limiting the size of government,[4] and political term limits.


People who have served on ALG's board include Howard Rich, Eric O'Keefe, John Tillman, Ed Crane, and Bill Wilson.[4][5]


Property rights[edit]

As one of their primary issues, Americans for Limited Government advocates limiting the ability of government to exercise eminent domain: as defined by Kelo v. New London.

ALG has sought to do this by funding ballot initiatives throughout the country that would curtail the scope of eminent domain. In 2006 the group along with Fund for Democracy helped support ballot initiatives to limit the use of eminent domain in eight states contributing approximately $4 million.[6] They were qualified for the 2006 ballots in Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Washington, but failed in Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. Another initiative might have been on the ballot in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough of Alaska. I-933 in Washington state.

Critics of ALG's property rights efforts have focused on two pragmatic areas: first, that the initiatives will make government incapable of regulating land use,[7] and second, that the initiatives will cost tax payers billions of dollars as it requires compensating businesses for complying with existing laws.[8]

Taxpayer Bill of Rights[edit]

ALG also supports initiatives to enact Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TaBOR) laws, which require states annually to reduce or restrict revenue or spending to within limits set according to inflation and population growth. These laws provide for "rainy day" (emergency) funds as well as the ability for state voters to decide whether their representatives should spend revenue surpluses rather than have it refunded to the taxpayers. Colorado voters passed the best-known example of a TABOR law in 1992 and later voted to suspend its restrictions in the 2005 Colorado Economic Recovery Act].[9]

The 2006 TaBOR initiatives were referred to variously as Stop OverSpending (SOS) (in Nebraska), Taxpayer Bill of Rights (in Maine and Oklahoma) and the "Rainy Day Amendment" (in Oregon) consisting of ballot Measure 41 and 48. The Oklahoma Supreme Court threw out the TaBOR initiative in that state because it had too few signatures and "evidence supported substantial illegal participation of out-of-state circulators."[10] A subsequent opinion will be issued addressing the details. Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Ohio have also removed TABOR from the ballot; initiatives were on the ballot but voted down, in Maine and Oregon.

School choice[edit]

ALG promotes a free-market approach to the American public school system based on vouchers or charter schools, arguing that competition among schools will increase both the quality and the economic efficiency of public education.[11][12] The organization claims that privatizing American schools will decrease education spending, promote accountability in school administration, and permit parents a greater degree of control over the schools their children attend. Opponents claim that ever since Milton Friedman suggested the concept during the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education, vouchers have functioned to increase racial and economic discrimination in schools, beginning in the late 1950s with the appearance of segregation academies.[13] Critics also contend that since approximately four out of five US private schools are religious, voucher and charter systems violate the Constitution.[14]

Recall of judges[edit]

A fourth issue of concern for ALG is accountability in the judicial system.[15] The group was involved in efforts to pass the Montana Constitutional Initiative 98 in 2006,[16] which would have allowed voters in that state to recall elected judges or justices for any reason. At present, Montana provides for the recall of these officials only in cases of incapacity, incompetence, misconduct, or felony. The initiative, along with two others, was removed from the ballot due to fraudulent signature gathering techniques, by a unanimous decision of the Montana Supreme Court.[17]


The State Right to Vote Act[edit]

The State Right to Vote Act is a bill that was introduced to the United States Congress on March 11, 2011 by Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina. The Bill has garnered the support of 37 other co-sponsors. The bill itself is aimed at amending the National Labor Relations act to

Declare that nothing in the Act shall be construed to authorize or recognize a labor organization as the representative of employees in a state where recognition of the labor organization is prohibited, unless the labor organization has been selected by a majority of such employees in a secret ballot…:[18]

Americans for Limited Government has been at the forefront, supporting the bill through numerous op-eds, various social media outlets, and their blog NetRightDaily.


A relatively unknown, at the time, Americans for Limited Government made their presence known in 2006, when they backed several ballot initiatives aimed at limiting the breadth of eminent domain.

California's Proposition 90, which appeared on the November 2006 ballot, was a technical loss but was an accomplishment nonetheless. Prop. 90 was designed to limit the circumstances under which government agencies could use eminent domain to obtain property, increase the amount government pays when they use eminent domain, and require state and local governments to compensate property owners when changes in laws or regulations diminished the value of their property.[19] The measure when put to the voters, failed to pass. 47.6% in favor 52.4% opposed.[20] Two years later a lesser In the June 2008 election the more narrowly defined Proposition 99 was passed.[21]


Americans for Limited Government’s focus has been establishing its online presence through new media resources. In 2007, with help from his children, Wilson began cultivating their internet presence with and later their blog[22][23] In 2009 the group was featured on hundreds of websites with many of their “prolific opposition research” showcased in many anti-Obama efforts.[4] On April 20, 2012 FreeMarket America, a project of ALG,[24] premiered If I wanted America to Fail on YouTube. As of April 26 the video has over 1.1 million views and has been embedded on, and[25]


In 2012, ALG was criticized by some for sending a voter audit letter which informed people whether their neighbors had voted in recent presidential elections.[26]

ALG has been criticized for representing wealthy out-of-state interests under the guise of local grassroots activism.[27] However, in an interview in South Carolina, a reporter asked ALG sponsor Howard Rich about the motivation behind his out-of-state contributions; Rich said:

There is great satisfaction. I went to public schools. My wife did. My two sons did. Here's an opportunity to give back something where kids will have an opportunity and parents will have an opportunity to go to a school of their choice not some school mandated by government. If every proposal that I have favored over the last 20 years got enacted, whether its term limits or school choice or property rights or any area – I get no personal benefit out of it. I don't make a nickel. Here in South Carolina I own no property. I have no businesses down here. So there's no real monetary benefit. I mainly do these things to be a pain in the rear for others.


  1. ^ a b "About". Americans for Limited Government. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  2. ^ Hicks, Josh (June 5, 2013). "Sens. Coburn and Portman question VA ‘official time’ for union activities". Washington Post. 
  3. ^ Corley, Matt (18 September 2014). "New Models' Legacy of ‘Dead End Disclosure’ Lives On with Allied". Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c SCOTT SHANE (September 25, 2009). "A Critic Finds Obama Policies a Perfect Target". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-15. It is the weekly research meeting at Americans for Limited Government, and Bill Wilson is presiding with gusto. The Obama administration is serving up so many rich targets that Mr. Wilson and his crew of young conservatives hardly know where to begin. 
  5. ^ Get website archive, 2006
  6. ^ "Voters get a say on land rights" USA Today 9/24/2006
  7. ^ "Nature Conservancy Opposes I-933"
  8. ^ "Study puts I-933's cost in billions." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 9/27/2006
  9. ^
  10. ^ In re: Initiative Petition No. 379, 2006 OK 60
  11. ^ ALG on School Choice
  12. ^ Caroline Hoxby on school choice and school competition
  13. ^ PFAW opposition to vouchers
  14. ^ NEA opposition to vouchers
  15. ^ ALG on Judicial Reform
  16. ^ Constitutional Initiative 98
  17. ^ – News
  18. ^ "H.R.1047 – State Right to Vote Act?" 1/1/2012
  19. ^ "MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: WHAT WOULD PROPOSITION 90 MEAN FOR CALIFORNIA?" California Budget Project 12/26/2011
  20. ^ California Secretary of State 2006 Election returns
  21. ^ "Wikipedia"
  22. ^
  23. ^ heep://
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Taking the Initiative." Now 9/22/2006

External links[edit]