The Center for Media and Democracy has filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Board, naming Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, alleging that ALEC scholarships violate state ethics and lobbying laws.
ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, is a nonprofit that focuses on state issues related to free markets and limited government. But it’s become controversial because some say legislative ideas appear to have come from ALEC conventions, which legislators attend thanks to “scholarships” from corporate sponsors.
The complaint was filed March 23, according to the Center for Media and Democracy’s website.
But Wanggaard said he is named wrongly in the complaint. He is a member of ALEC, but he has never attended an ALEC conference or meeting and has never accepted a scholarship to go to an ALEC event, Wanggaard said.
Vos, Wisconisn’s ALEC state chairman, said an earlier complaint was filed but dismissed. The GAB then issued a complete memo saying “as long as you do X, Y and Z you are within the constraints of the law,” Vos said. “We have always followed that.”
But Brendan Fischer, a law fellow with the Center for Media and Democracy, a progressive Madison nonprofit, said the GAB has misunderstood the way ALEC works.
Under Wisconsin state law legislators cannot accept anything of value from lobbyists, Fischer said.
But he said the ALEC scholarships allow legislators to “sidestep” state laws and accept free flights and hotel rooms and then attend a convention, where they are further lobbied.
Reid Magney, spokesman for the GAB, said he is aware a complaint has been filed, but he could not comment about the status of the complaint.