Crikey. I thought Heartland Institute and ProEnglish were anomalies as tax cheating lobbying groups. After a bit of research, its clear the only thing a partisan lobbyist organization needs to do to evade paying taxes and get the honest American taxpayers to subsidize their politics is to have their accountants fill out an IRS 990 Form. This lends credence to the old saying 'You always get more of whatever you subsize'.
Case in Point: The American Legislative Exchange Council, commonly referred to as ALEC. Here is a link to their 990 Form Foundation Center: ALEC 2010 Form 990. This form is a required filing for tax-exempt charitable organizations claiming the 501(c)(3) status that allows their donors to deduct their contributions on their income tax returns. The questions on the form are there to ensure organizations claiming tax-exempt status are not violating the rules about excessive political activity and lobbying.
The mission of ALEC is to write legislation for State and Federal lawmakers for a variety of right wing conservative causes and corporate interests. While the official lobbying organizations who operate legally aim to influence what goes into legislation or to drum up support for particular pieces of legislation, ALEC leaps right past that lame exercise and goes so far as to write the actual verbiage used in the bills and then they hand it over to the conservative lawmakers so they can introduce the ALEC drafted legislation as bills. What a racket. Its way beyond just lobbying. It's as if we have sub-contracted the legislative branch of government to the highest bidder.
There are all sorts of stories around the internet about the unseemly influence of ALEC in a variety of States and in the Federal government. This link is a good start. ALEC exposed.
Here is an excerpt from that link.
ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.
For reference, here is ALEC's official website. They are quite proud of all of their legislative accomplishments. No secret backdoor lobbying here. It is front, center, Caps and bold.
And here is a link about ALEC's rampage through the legislative halls in the State of Arizona. Heck, it seems the GOP in Arizona has simply turned over the reins of government to these lobbyists. ALEC in Arizona, Democracy in peril
This issue of political lobbying organizations operating fraudulently under the guise of a charitable non-profit organization with tax-exempt status is apparently much more widespread than I first imagined. I can not fathom how so many right wing politicians who pretend to be so deeply concerned about the American budget crisis are openly cheating the American taxpayers. Like I have pointed out before, they all are relying on the herd to keep the IRS off their backs. If we all do it, it can't be illegal. I am guessing if anyone gets too close to exposing the clear illegality, ALEC will just rewrite the IRS code concerning the requirements for 501(c)(3) status and have their shills in the GOP/Tea Party in Congress sponsor a Bill to make it official.