Who’s paying for a group of South Dakota Republican legislators attending the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Spring Task Force convention in Oklahoma City this weekend?
That’s the question South Dakota taxpayers deserve to know after Republicans enacted a new travel policy in effect as of May 1, 2013, that allows them to use tax dollars for travel to the corporate controlled ALEC conferences. ALEC matches Republican legislators with corporate special interests to write anti-democratic, anti-education, anti-taxpayer accountability model legislation for Republicans to enact in their home states. The organization is funded by conservative billionaires including the Koch brothers.
“Who is paying for Republican legislators to attend the ALEC convention in Oklahoma this weekend?” South Dakota Democratic Party Chairman Ben Nesselhuf asked. “South Dakotans have made it clear that we don’t want tax dollars to be used for dues or travel to ALEC conventions. Yet just two days after Republicans gave themselves the right to use tax dollars for travel to ALEC conventions, five Republicans are already showboating at the ALEC Spring Task Force meeting. So, we need answers from the Republicans at the ALEC convention right now. Who’s paying your travel and membership dues to ALEC?”
At least five Republicans are at the ALEC convention in Oklahoma City right now: Rep. Charlie Hoffman (R-Eureka), Rep. Brock Greenfield (R-Clark), Rep. Don Kopp (R-Rapid City), Sen. Phil Jensen (R-Rapid City), and Sen. Dan Lederman (R-Dakota Dunes). Rep. Charlie Hoffman and Senator Dan Lederman both tweeted from the ALEC Spring Task Force this morning.
They are attending the ALEC convention just two days after a the new travel policy allowing legislators to attend ALEC conventions on the taxpayer dime went into effect.
And the bill to taxpayers could add up quickly. A one night stay at the Renaissance Oklahoma City Convention Center hotel amounts to $250 per person, and flights to Oklahoma City from Sioux Falls are as much as $450.
“In two short days, five Republicans may cost South Dakota taxpayers thousands of dollars that they could have invested in seniors, middle class families, or veterans,” said Ben Nesselhuf. “Democrats refuse to use tax dollars for ALEC dues and travel. South Dakota’s newspapers have followed our suit in asking for the same thing. South Dakota taxpayers deserve to know right away who’s paying for Republican legislators at the ALEC convention. We’ll be waiting for their response.”