The Washington Post

ALEC, the free-market group liberals love to hate, gets a new boss

The American Legislative Exchange Council, which advocates for limited government, free-market state policies, has a new chief executive.

Lisa B. Nelson, formerly of Ulysses Consulting, is joining the group as its new CEO, taking over for Ron Scheberle. ALEC connects member legislators with private-sector members, representatives from corporations and nonprofit groups, and makes available a library of model bills in line with its free-market, limited government philosophy.

“I’m enthusiastic to lead the American Legislative Exchange Council and build on its rich history of creating opportunity in states and communities through nonpartisan policy research and analysis,” Nelson said in a statement. “At a time when the American people are calling for change, our unique public-private partnership is highly relevant and poised for growth.”

The group already claims more than 2,000 legislator members, or more than 1 in every 4 state lawmakers. It has also become a target of the left for the conservative-friendly policies its members promote and pass at the state level.

Before working at Ulysses, Nelson served as head of government relations for the Americas for Visa Inc., from 2005 to 2013. She also worked in conservative politics in the 1990s, including a three-year stint as public affairs liaison to then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) after serving as executive director of GOPAC, the group dedicated to grooming and promoting Republican leaders.

“Lisa Nelson was a key leader at GOPAC in developing the Contract with America,” Gingrich said in the statement. “She is a great leader with a deep public policy interest and a real understanding of innovation. She will greatly enhance ALEC’s ability to serve state legislators.”

ALEC has become a target of the left in recent years, in particular for its one-time promotion of so-called Stand Your Ground laws, the self-defense protections that gained national attention in the wake of the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), in particular, has focused his attention on ALEC, making it a central part of his criticism of such laws.

“In 2005, ALEC adopted model legislation that was nearly identical to Florida’s law,” Durbin said in prepared remarks at a fall hearing on Stand Your Ground laws. “They then began shopping it in statehouses. Within a year, 13 more states had passed similar laws. Today 25 states, not counting Florida, have passed a law based in whole or in part on the ALEC model.”

The group has since abandoned its backing of such policies, focusing instead on economic measures.

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. Get caught up on the race.
The feminist appeal may not be working for Clinton
In New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders is beating Clinton among women by eight percentage points, according to a new CNN-WMUR survey. This represents a big shift from the results last week in the Iowa caucuses, where Clinton won women by 11 points.
The Post's Dan Balz says ...
This was supposed to be the strongest Republican presidential field in memory, but cracks are showing. At Saturday night's debate, Marco Rubio withered in the face of unyielding attacks from Chris Christie, drawing attention to the biggest question about his candidacy: Is he ready to be president? How much the debate will affect Rubio's standing Tuesday is anybody's guess. But even if he does well, the question about his readiness to serve as president and to go up against Clinton, if she is the Democratic nominee, will linger.
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She left the state Sunday to go to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 40%
Play Video
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.