At least five major companies and one foundation have severed support for the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC — part of a growing national campaign that has linked the corporate advocacy group to voter ID laws and “Stand Your Ground” gun legislation highlighted in the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida.
On April 10, Common Cause announced in a press release that “Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo and Intuit confirmed last week that they’ve already withdrawn from ALEC. On Monday, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that they will no longer be making grants to ALEC.”
Later the same day, McDonald’s also announced it was pulling support.
The defections could be a serious blow to ALEC, which since 1973 has pushed conservative legislation in state legislatures, often aimed at weakening or eliminating environmental and other regulations. In November 2011, a Florida Republican lawmaker forgot to remove ALEC’s mission statement from an anti-tax bill he introduced to the legislature, one of several recent episodes revealing ALEC’s pervasive influence.
Key to ALEC’s mission is its “public private partnership,” which, according to ALEC’s website, “provides the private sector with an unparalleled opportunity to have its voice heard, and its perspective appreciated, by the legislative members” of the groups, who are mostly Republican state lawmakers.
Twenty-three companies comprise ALEC’s “private enterprise board,” all of them political heavyweights. According to an analysis by Open Secrets.org, the 23 corporations have spent more than $400 million on federal lobbying between 2009 and 2011. The people and PACs associated with the ALEC companies also gave more than $25 million to federal candidates in the 2010 election cycle.