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Exxon and ALEC Running Illegal Lobbying Scheme, Watchdog Groups Charge in IRS Complaint

ExxonMobil and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are running an illegal scheme to promote the oil giant’s climate denial policies and legislative agenda in violation of U.S. tax law governing charitable organizations, the Center for Media Democracy (CMD) and Common Cause charged today.

In a new filing to the IRS – adding to an active investigation prompted by a 2012 complaint that ALEC is operating as a corporate lobbying group while registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity – the watchdog organizations detail for the first time how Exxon has used ALEC as a key asset in its explicit campaign to sow uncertainty about climate science, undermine international climate treaties and block legislation to reduce emissions. While ALEC purports to spend zero dollars on lobbying, Exxon has deliberately used ALEC for the past two decades to advance its legislative goals concerning cap-and-trade policies, fracking, the Keystone Pipeline and the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan.

“It has become painfully obvious over the past few years that ALEC is corporate lobby front group masquerading as a charity—at taxpayer expense,” said Arn Pearson, general counsel at CMD. “If the laws governing nonprofits are to mean anything, the IRS needs to take action to enforce them in this case.”

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