ALEC gets gift from Nuclear Energy Institute

Industry trade group contributed $10,000 to controversial think tank

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The American Legislative Exchange Council, known for churning out industry-friendly legislation, received $10,000 from the Nuclear Energy Institute last year, according to a new tax filing obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

The Nuclear Energy Institute — the nuclear industry’s main trade association — disclosed the payment to the controversial think tank in an annual report recently submitted to the Internal Revenue Service.

ALEC, which is organized as a charity under Sec. 501(c)(3) of the tax code to promote “free markets” and “limited government” in the states, is not required to publicly identify its funders.

Nuclear Energy Institute spokesman Steve Kerekes said his group contributed to ALEC as a way to “increase awareness of energy and environmental considerations among state and local” officials.

A spokesperson for ALEC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

One of the main goals of the Nuclear Energy Institute is “to achieve a predictable and stable regulatory environment,” according to materials published on its website. Another is “to achieve durable, bipartisan political support for nuclear energy.”

ALEC, which is composed mainly of business interests and state-level Republican lawmakers, maintains an “Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force” that seeks “to ensure states remain the first among equals with the federal government on environmental regulation.”

For its part, ALEC raised $8.4 million in 2012 — a year during which it faced fierce criticism for its activities.

Several major corporations — including McDonald’s and Coca-Cola — and dozens of state officials dropped out of ALEC last year after the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. Liberal groups had called for boycotts of ALEC-affiliated companies because ALEC had championed the “stand your ground” law at play in the case.

In 2012, ALEC was also the subject of an IRS complaint from a handful of liberal-leaning ministers in Ohio that was written by attorney Marcus Owens, the former director for the tax agency’s exempt-organizations division. The complaint alleged that ALEC “elevates commercial gain for a few over the well-being of society’s less fortunate” and should be stripped of its 501(c)(3) charity status.

Overall, IRS records show the Nuclear Energy Institute spent $55.5 million in 2012 and doled out a total of $627,200 to 26 nonprofit organizations, including ALEC.

Its top beneficiaries were Third Way, a Democratic-aligned group that claims to represent “Americans in the ‘vital center,’” which got $155,000, and the Bipartisan Policy Center, a charity whose founders include Republican Bob Dole and Democrat Tom Daschle, which got $120,000.