Talk:American Legislative Exchange Council

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More needs to be added from this source. It's incredibly dense and informative. I'll get to the rest in the next couple of days if others haven't already. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 10:04, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
This is a more recent Governing article by Greenblatt. I haven't read it in depth yet but it could provide excellent reliable coverage of some of the recent controversies. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 18:40, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Opinion source. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 21:06, 16 December 2013 (UTC)
--Dr. Fleischman (talk) 20:59, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
Opinion though some aspects may be cited for facts. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 06:37, 24 December 2013 (UTC)
Opinion piece. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 07:47, 25 December 2013 (UTC)
Opinion piece, of course. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 06:11, 2 July 2014 (UTC)




Opinion source. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 06:42, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
Questionable reliability. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 06:47, 19 June 2014 (UTC)


Has anyone found any reliable sources in which independent experts (not affiliated with ALEC, Common Cause, etc.) have opined on the legality of ALEC's quasi-lobbying activities? --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 18:32, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

There has been almost no reporting on this since the initial flurry of press releases that I have found. Capitalismojo (talk) 15:31, 6 November 2014 (UTC)
I have a pretty fair understanding of non-profits and my assessment is that this will go nowhere, legally speaking. It looks like classic SLAPP type activity from an org one side of an the ideological spectrum against an org on the other. I'm not sure the IRS even has a requirement to publicly respond if or how they have dealt with it. Capitalismojo (talk) 15:35, 6 November 2014 (UTC)
I'm not talking specifically about the Common Cause complaint. A lot of the news coverage suggests there are questions about the legality of ALEC's practices. What I'm looking for are stories where independent experts were consulted. I'm surprised I haven't seen any quotes from experts along the lines of, "ALEC's practices are undemocratic but legal," or, "ALEC is operating in a legal gray area." --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 19:10, 6 November 2014 (UTC)
Haven't seen anything like that either. Capitalismojo (talk) 19:15, 6 November 2014 (UTC)
I found something: "None of this is illegal." We're already citing that excellent source but we're underutilizing it. And here's a new and interesting one, though not quite on point: [1]. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 20:43, 6 November 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I see the "legality" mention has been re-added in the lede. This is a bit of subtle SYN. First, if ALEC had engaged in any illegal activity there'd be news items about it. Second, the is the mention about calls for attorney general investigations, but we have no sourcing that says investigations were launched. Third, the explicit mention of "while legal" implies that something improper was being done. This item should be removed. – S. Rich (talk) 17:56, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

The cited Bloomberg source says that ALEC's activities are legal. There are no sources that challenge that conclusion. I don't object to moving this tidbit elsewhere in the lead if you feel its current position implies something--but it's definitely important enough to stay in the lead, somewhere. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 18:15, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
There is a little thing in First Amendment to the United States Constitution called the Right to petition. ALEC (& SPN & probably CMD) exercises that right. When those ALEC drafted laws get enacted, 2 houses of the legislature and the chief executive approve the legislation. The enacted laws are subject to review by the courts. I don't mean to give a Civics 101 lesson (please forgive me), but saying "None of this is illegal" or "while legal" is just stating something that should be quite obvious. The controversy about ALEC et al. is that they are part of the big corporate world that is driven by greed – a greed that enables us to line up outside the Apple Store for new iPhones or to stroll through grocery stores that are stocked with 20,000 different items. It is the evil Greed that prompts the Koch family give $25,000,000 to the United Negro College Fund. (Opps, I got on a roll.) Back on track -- the mention by a staff writer & reporter is not legal analysis and is not noteworthy. Omit entirely. – S. Rich (talk) 18:42, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Agree. That the activities of the subject of this article are legal is documented in a reliable source. A clear, explicit, up-front statement of such is extremely useful to our readers and editors in evaluating the content of the article. Also, maybe it will help prevent an editor from coming up behind us and slapping "alleged" in front of every activity, as if it might be illegal, in case some reader might think it illegal. Thank you. Hugh (talk) 19:15, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Srich, ALEC's legality may be obvious to you, but it's not at all obvious to me, nor to Common Cause. Moreover ALEC has been accused by a variety of sources of engaging in lobbying, dishonesty, sneakiness, and general bad behavior, which is why it's important to clarify that their activity is legal according to the reliable sources. And the fact that the authors were professional reporters (at a reputable outlet) signals all the more than we can say ALEC's activities were legal without attribution. We must assume that their work was fact checked, and they may have consulted with Bloomberg or outside lawyers. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 20:21, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
We can say the activity is legal, but lets do so in the area where we see the calls for attorney general investigations. While we don't know what became of the Common Cause & AG complaints, moving the legality citation to that area of the text will help clarify. – S. Rich (talk) 20:27, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
I don't think that's possible, at least how the article is organized. The complaints are in the section on lobbying but the Bloomberg source's "none of this is illegal" statement isn't limited to lobbying issues. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 20:34, 18 February 2015 (UTC)


2014-11-08 - Hi, I am not experienced with wikipedia editing, and so am posting a question here on the talk page. I can't find any source to indicate that Apple has actually been one of the companies to support ALEC. Is it possible that Apple has not supported ALEC and that the mention of Apple supporting them is in error? Jlsoaz (talk) 22:12, 8 November 2014 (UTC)jlsoaz

Hi Jisoaz. I found two sources that mention that Apple was an ALEC member and then withdrew its support: IBT and the Dallas News. The IBT article was referenced when the Apple bit was originally added, but then the reference was removed. I've restored it. Thans for the heads up. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 07:19, 10 November 2014 (UTC)
Hi Dr. Fleischman, thanks for the prompt response, I think this addresses the question I had.Jlsoaz (talk) 09:12, 10 November 2014 (UTC)jlsoaz

SPN sponsorship[edit]

Arthur Rubin and I have removed material related to one sponsor of ALEC. The justification (for me, at least) is that the particular sponsor (State Policy Network) is not a WP:NOTEWORTHY contributor. I submit that restoring this material requires WP:CONSENSUS. – S. Rich (talk) 06:08, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

Notability is proportional to coverage in reliable sources. The State Policy Network is perhaps the most widely named sponsor in reliable sources, please see the refs you deleted. Let me know if you need more. Reliable sources which have noted the SPN sponsorship of ALEC include the Center for Public Integrity, Mother Jones, the Center for Media and Democracy, and the Nonprofit Quarterly. Koch Industries was only a "vice-chairman" level sponsor and is included in he article; the State Policy Network was a "chairman." Further note, the claim that SPN is a member of ALEC and a sponsor at the ALEC conference is neutral and not controversial, as evidenced by the inclusion of an article on their relationship on the State Policy Network's own website, included as a supporting reference, which you also deleted. Hugh (talk) 06:29, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Are any of those sources reliable for significance? Seems unlikely. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 07:45, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
I have no objection to removing Koch Industries; the notability is probably due only to anti-Koch sources. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 07:55, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Well, thanks for your frank admission, I guess. SPN was a chairman level sponsor. Koch paid half as much and is included. Will you also delete Koch Industries? Hugh (talk) 08:04, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
What sources would you prefer? The sponsor you are desperately trying to exclude is much more widely cited in RS than the rest of the sponsors you include. Will you also delete them, not notable? Hugh (talk) 08:04, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Excluding this source is a flagrant violation of our fundamental responsibility to present a subject in proportion to coverage in reliable sources. Hugh (talk) 08:04, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
The sponsor you are trying to exclude, the State Policy Network, do you view their relationship as somehow unflattering to the subject of this article? Their relationship is not controversial. The State Policy Network talks about their relationship with ALEC on their website. What is the problem? Hugh (talk) 08:04, 17 February 2015 (UTC
(edit conflict) Again, the editing objective is noteworthiness, not notability. That said, I agree with Arthur Rubin. Adding this material, especially when sourced by POV driven media, is not encyclopedic. – S. Rich (talk) 08:07, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Which sources in your view are POV driven? And where does it say sources cannot have a POV? Hugh (talk) 08:14, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
So, the sponsors that ARE mentioned. How did THEY get passed you guys? You know what would help me understand your issue here? If not coverage in reliable sources, what constitutes your personal definition of "noteworthy," and, using your personal definition of "noteworthy," please explain how the sponsors that are mentioned in this article are "noteworthy" and the ones that are not mentioned are not "noteworthy." Thank you. Hugh (talk) 09:36, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

I think the material should stay. We've been over the closely related topic of Koch funding before, without consensus, and my position is unchanged. I have no problem with one donor receiving a somewhat disproportionate amount of coverage if that's reflective of the reliable sources, though I'd prefer to see funding numbers put in a broader context. Some comments were made earlier in this thread that the deleted content should be deleted because it is "sourced by POV driven media," which I believe is hogwash, frankly. Without doing any research, I can say for certain that The Guardian and Nonprofit Quarterly are well established reliable sources. PR Watch is not (per previous discussions here and at RSN). My position is, delete PR watch but keep the rest. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 17:22, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

Thank you for your support. Hugh (talk) 20:20, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
@HughD: I see CMD as POV-driven and I've commented before about their wiki, ALECExposed,, SPN Halloween spiderweb, Koch Exposed, etc. And then we see Progress Now and CMD used as the source for the NPQ article. Only that article starts off with "Right-Wing" in the title and moves along with "think tanks" in scare quotes, "hard-hitting study", and "little more than fronts". It closes with 2 paragraphs which are simply opinion. The hard-hitting study comes out of CMD's PRWatch. Well that's fine because everyone and every organization has POV. But per WP:SOAPBOX "Wikipedia is not a soapbox, a battleground, or a vehicle for propaganda, advertising and showcasing." The "other aspects" of CMD (e.g., the heavy bias and lousy referencing) must be weighed when presenting factual material in articles. This is in keeping with WP:Neutral_point_of_view#Bias_in_sources. We do not want the presentation of the fact to serve as the soapbox. – S. Rich (talk) 18:47, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Looking at this in more detail, I don't see what the NPQ source gets us. It appears to be WP:CITEKILL to me. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 18:54, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
One thing that tends to happen when editors run around with "Not noteworthy! Not noteworthy!" is additional referencing. The context here is a notability discussion. Weight is proportional to coverage in reliable sources. Nonprofit Quarterly is a reliable source. Please leave all the references for now. Thank you. Hugh (talk) 19:18, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
This very practice is known as citation overkill and is generally considered inappropriate. No one is questioning whether this organization is the largest service union in Illinois, and even if they were it wouldn't be appropriate to lard up the article with redundant sources. If your goal is to convince other editors of the noteworthiness of this fact then the appropriate place to do so is on this talk page, rather than in the article itself. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 19:25, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
"...every organization has POV..." Thank you! Hugh (talk) 19:21, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
No one is soap-boxing. Keep it real, brother. The only issue here is the simple, straightforward, non-controversial, well-documented claims of membership and sponsorship. Hugh (talk) 19:30, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

Thankfully, WP policy WP:WEIGHT is extremely clear and quantitative and objective, so there is absolutely no reason in the world to get bogged down in a protracted discussion of notability. It's really quite simple: weight in a WP article is proportional to coverage in reliable sources. After a certain point, once something is out there enough, it sort of has to go in WP. Our hands are tied. It's not up to us. In this case, we are way, way beyond the point were opposing these simple, straightforward, non-controversial, well-documented claims of membership and sponsorship are worthy. Hugh (talk) 19:28, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

I'm not totally sure of the point you're making in this most recent comment, but it's clear to me we have a disagreement over what WP:NPV means and how to apply it. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 19:33, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
According to the OP, this section is a nominally notability discussion. Hugh (talk) 20:27, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
I don't understand. You're the one who keeps bringing up WP:WEIGHT. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 20:54, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

The proposed edit is to include the State Policy Network in the existing paragraph on ALEC members and sponsors. Please I would like to hear from editors opposed to this simple edit on the following points:

  1. The edit is non-controversial, neutral, unbiased. SPN describes their relationship with ALEC on their (SPN's) website, ref included in support of non-controversiality. Certainly it is more connotation-free than some of the sponsor already in the article. Hugh (talk) 20:18, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
    The first sentence is false, false, false. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:56, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
    What is it you think is false please? Hugh (talk) 05:58, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
  2. The claim is widely documented in reliable sources WP:WEIGHT. See the references. More can be provided upon request. The SPN is the single most widely documented ALEC member. Certainly SPN's membership in ALEC appears in reliable sources more frequently than any of the sponsors already included in the article. Hugh (talk) 20:18, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
    Actually, the "funding" is supported in one (marginally) reliable source and other sources quoting it. It is frequently quoted, but it is clearly incorrect to state that any specifics are supported by reliable sources. I'm not sure the connection in "organization" is supported, either, but there do appear to be more reliable sources for those statements. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:56, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
    Which is the marginally reliable source and which are quoting it in your view? Hugh (talk) 05:58, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
  3. Sources need not be neutral WP:BIASED.
    Opposing inclusion of this simple, straightforward, non-controversial, well-documented content is a violation of our fundamental responsibility to present the subject in proportion to coverage in reliable sources. Hugh (talk) 20:18, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
    Sources for significance generally need to be from other than stated political enemies, unless properly attributed. Facts can come from biased sources if they have a reputation for fact-checking, or if the fact is the fact that the organization says something. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:56, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
    Which sources are "stated political enemies" and where is it stated please?Hugh (talk) 05:58, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
I am for the inclusion of this material, though in the "Organization" section (where it's already covered to some extent) and with a trimmed list of sources. It's mostly not about funding so it doesn't belong in the "Funding" section. The way this content is framed it's really about organizational ties. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 20:52, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for your support. As far as which section, SPN was a "chairman-level" sponsor, which is a highly significant aspect of its notability. The edit fits better along side the other sponsors, after the levels are explained. Hugh (talk) 21:04, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
There are a lot of chairman-level sponsors. And most of the content you're proposing isn't about funding. In fact I think the funding is the least significant part of the connection. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 21:29, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for your advice. I took your advice and put most of the discussed content under Organization where it fits better. The sponsorship goes on the existing list. Thanks again for your support. Hugh (talk) 05:26, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
And I removed it from "funding", as listing it on both places with the same sources is clearly undue weight. I believe any mention, without more non-ultra-left sources is undue weight, but there are some arguments to the contrary. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 06:28, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Additional detail ON SPN and ALEC was added to the organization and funding section as appropriate and as per talk page concensus. Hugh (talk) 16:22, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
  1. The same sources were not used in both places. Did you read them before jumping on the delete key? One source is in common, a link to SPN's own website, where they talk about their relationship to ALEC in front of god and everyone, a ref added by way of demonstrating to discriminating readers and editors that this content is unbiased, neutral, and completely non-controversial. Why are you so determined to prevent the addition of non-controversial content? Please reply. Hugh (talk) 16:22, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
  2. Did you know, a ref may be used in more than one place? This article has a ref with 18 uses. Will you delete it and the content it supports? Hugh (talk) 16:22, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
  3. Are you aware that sources need not be neutral? WP:BIASED The refs you deleted along with the unbiased, neutral, and completely non-controversial content include Mother Jones, the Center for Public Integrity, and the Center for Media and Democracy, all of which organizations are already used in existing references in this article. Will you delete those references and the content they reference? Hugh (talk) 16:22, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
HughD, a bit higher up you say "The edit is non-controversial...." While the material itself may be non-controversial, this ongoing discussion shows that the edit was controversial. – S. Rich (talk) 16:35, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Removed from "funding" again. Your source is a blog entry, not a newsblog. I don't doubt the statement is true, and totally insignificant in this article. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 20:56, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
Oh! Is the protection lifted early? Hugh (talk) 21:08, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
The article was only semiprotected. Unless your account was created in the past week, you are allowed to edit the article, although I would recommend against it. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 13:38, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
I have not heard that before, why do you recommend I not edit this article? Hugh (talk) 17:07, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
Because almost all of your edits are disputed. It would probably be better for you to obtain consensus before adding material likely to be disputed (for accuracy, tone, or weight). — Arthur Rubin (talk) 18:39, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

Departure of members in lead section[edit]

The departure of legislative and private-sector members in recent years is definitely sufficiently noteworthy for the lead section. It has been a major subject of news coverage and it shouldn't be removed simply because an ALEC spokesperson says the organization grew in spite of the controversies. The noteworthiness of the departures isn't about ALEC's size, it's about the fallout from the negative press coverage and ALEC's controversial positions. Not to mention that a self-serving statement by an ALEC spokesperson, unsubstantiated by reliable secondary sources, hardly serves as balancing material. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 18:24, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

The problem is balance. Sure, some members left and they may have done so because of the controversy. But simply saying members left implies that ALEC has diminished in size and influence. Actually if you look at the NCCS profile, specifically the financials chart, you'll see that ALEC's revenues and assets grew from 2011 to 2012. Per the Form 990 for 2013, revenue dropped from the prior year. Was that because of the Treyvon Martin case? (Oh-oh, must avoid OR.) Would it be more neutral to say "Following the news stories the vast majority of ALEC's members stayed in the organization."? Perhaps not. But I recommend leaving this membership level tidbit out of the lede.– S. Rich (talk) 18:58, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Agree. Lede summarizes the whole article WP:LEDE. What other content from the subsection 2011-present is included in the lede? The departures of legislative members and corporate sponsors is the single most significant aspect of this period in the history of the subject of this article. It belongs in the lede. Hugh (talk) 19:06, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Srich, sure it could be read to imply that ALEC has diminished in size and influence. It's impossible to present any information about members coming or going without some suggestion at that level. But that's just common sense, and our lead language implies it no more than the reliable sources do. The only way to scrub the article of all such perfectly reasonable inferences is to blank it entirely. Not to mention that I haven't seen any reliable sources saying that ALEC hasn't diminished in size and influence since 2011. Your references to ALEC's financials are pure OR. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 19:21, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Like I said, "Oh-oh, must avoid OR." I do NOT propose to put the Form 990 comparisons into the article. But I am seeking to parse available information as part of the discussion. – S. Rich (talk) 19:29, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Ok, fair enough. So what's wrong with mentioning the departure of these members in the lead? --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 19:41, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Part of the problem is the overall text. Take a look at the edit I just did about companies withdrawing. It was a syntax correction, but it is one of many needed edits. Rather than being so eager to get this bit of information into the lede, let's get the basic article cleaned up. Then we'll have a better idea of how the lede should rede. – S. Rich (talk) 20:10, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
I have a better solution: include the content with an inline tag of your choice (POV-inline?), and once the article has reached some point where you can articulate your particular concerns then we can revisit. But provisionally removing stable, reliably sourced content on this "cleanup is needed" basis, I won't have that. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 21:05, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
The removed text seems...straightforward. ALEC was certainly under public attack, they have certainly lost members because of the attacks, we discuss that in the body. Soemthing should be in the lede. Capitalismojo (talk) 21:43, 18 February 2015 (UTC)