The nonprofit watchdog group Common Cause is asking the S.C. Attorney General’s Office to investigate the American Legislative Exchange Council.

At issue is whether the council’s work constitutes lobbying, which is forbidden under ALEC’s current nonprofit tax status.

John Crangle, executive director of Common Cause-SC, said he has asked Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office to see if ALEC’s tax returns and activities comply with the state’s tax and lobbying laws.

The council has members from state legislatures in all 50 states. It sponsors regular meetings where lawmakers discuss possible legislation with representatives from corporate America.

ALEC has come under increased scrutiny in recent months for its role in pushing laws that require a photo ID to vote and that expand an individual’s right, if threatened, to use lethal force outside their home.

“South Carolinians shouldn’t have to subsidize ALEC’s agenda to limit voting rights, undermine our public schools, spread Stand Your Ground gun laws, and weaken laws protecting our environment,” Crangle said.

The Attorney General’s Office has received the letter and will respond in a few days, spokesman Mark Plowden said.

State Rep. Liston Barfield, R-Conway, is co-chairman of ALEC in South Carolina and serves on the group’s national board. He did not return a message Wednesday. ALEC supporters in South Carolina have said the group operates much like the National Conference of State Legislatures but with a more conservative bent.

Nationally, Common Cause filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service, alleging that ALEC is flouting federal tax laws by posing as a tax-exempt charity while spending millions of dollars to lobby for bills in states across the country.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.