Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all the protest movements and boycott groups, and they get lost in the shuffle. But a quietly successful movement against ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, deserves some attention.
As you may know, ALEC is the organization behind much of the right-wing legislation in the states over the past several years. They provide turnkey, pre-written legislation that then turns up, submitted by Republicans, in practically every state. And that would be fine if that’s all it was, there’s a group called Progressive States that has tried for years to do the same thing on the Democratic side. But ALEC is different. It’s literally underwritten by corporations. They fund ALEC to write business-friendly legislation and get it into state legislatures. But ALEC covers the full spectrum of the conservative agenda. They are responsible for all these anti-choice laws popping up around the country, and the restrictive voter ID laws, and the anti-immigration laws that started in Arizona, as well as things like the “Stand Your Ground” law, now prominent thanks to the Trayvon Martin tragedy. It’s not that hard to see how this all connects to a pro-corporate agenda (the immigration laws specifically supported the private prison industry), but on the surface it looks incongruous.
This gave the coalition on the left a way to strike at ALEC: go after those corporations, confront them with the fruit of their funding, and tell them to drop ALEC. And this is working.
Two of America’s best-known companies, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, have dropped their memberships in the American Legislative Exchange Council, a low-profile conservative organization behind the national proliferation of “stand your ground” gun laws [...]
“We have a longstanding policy of not taking positions on issues that don’t have a direct bearing on our company or on our industry,” said Coca-Cola Co. spokeswoman Diana Garza Ciarlante, after the soft drink giant dropped its membership in ALEC on Monday.
Coca-Cola’s announcement came hours after a civil rights group, ColorOfChange.org, launched an online drive calling on Coca-Cola to stop underwriting the ALEC agenda on voter ID laws in several states.
This is part of a larger effort to confront companies with their support of ALEC, including at shareholder meetings, which is quickly becoming another venue for activism. Common Cause, the Center for Media and Democracy and several responsible investing groups are part of this coalition.
You cannot divorce ALEC from their corporate benefactors. The organization prides themselves on bringing together legislators and the private sector to map out legislation that fits their interests. But ALEC stepped too far away from that model. And this will makes things very difficult for them: corporate underwriting makes up 99% of ALEC’s total budget.
I could see ALEC either having to massively scale back or dissolve if this backlash is successful. However, there’s no guarantee of that success. Still, it’s comforting that people even have begun to know the name “ALEC.”