By Ray Stern | Arizona Republic
Arizona lawmakers who meet privately with special interest groups to formulate legislation could violate the state’s open meeting law, a divided Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled.
The case, brought by Puente Human Rights Movement and several other liberal groups, could force more lawmakers to provide more transparency in meetings with organizations like the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.
The liberal groups filed the suit against the Legislature in December 2019 in Maricopa County Superior Court, the same day that ALEC kicked off a three-day conference in Scottsdale.
ALEC is one of the better-known groups that develop “model legislation” that legislators in multiple states bring home from conferences to codify into law, such as legislation that targets boycott actions against Israel, corporate liability, gun laws and voter ID laws, among others.
Hundreds of lawmakers and corporate lobbyists meet annually at ALEC’s conferences, which are funded by private and corporate donors. Republican legislators say the conferences provide scholarships for young people and educate lawmakers about policies that have worked in other states.
Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, a longtime member and recent treasurer of ALEC, is the organization’s national chairwoman for 2022.