The Mars candy company, maker of Skittles, has become the seventh company this week to sever ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that develops and propagates legislation friendly to corporate interests. ALEC sponsors private meetings of legislators and corporate representatives to develop and propagate bills such as the Arizona immigrant legislation, the Wisconsin bill to limit union strength, voter identification, and notably, Stand Your Ground laws. Elected representatives and senators then move these bills through their respective legislative bodies.
What are the interests of a corporate-funded council in developing a bill such as Stand Your Ground, and then promoting it until it becomes law in dozens of states? Why would ALEC promote immigration and voter identification laws? Why would ALEC promote bills for gun laws, such as conceal and carry reciprocity? And why would bills like these need to be prepared secretively, in private meetings between elected officials and corporate representatives?
Here are some telling details. The National Rifle Association first conceived of the Stand Your Ground laws, and brought them to ALEC. The NRA has lobbied heavily for these bills. The NRA has also worked closely with ALEC to promote the Concealed Carry Outright Recognition Act and the Concealed Carry True Reciprocity Act, which elected officials associated with ALEC endorsed in 2004.
Regarding immigration identification laws, it is important to note that the two largest corporations that purchase and manage private prisons in the US and internationally, CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) and G4S (formerly Wackenhut) are both members and corporate sponsors of ALEC.
The strong backlash that is forming against Stand Your Ground as a result of the Trayvon Martin case is leading significant corporate sponsors to sever their ties with ALEC. Those who have announced that they will not renew their membership include Mars, Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and the Arizona Public Service Company.
Other companies that currently retain their membership in ALEC include Koch Companies Private Sector, Wal-Mart, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, State Farm Insurance, the American Bail Coalition, AT&T, ExxonMobil, PhRMA, Reynolds American, Bayer, and United Parcel Service, among dozens of others. For a full listing, go to SourceWatch at http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=ALEC_Corporations.
Support for ALEC is rapidly eroding, and the situation is fluid. For up to date information, go to the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR watch website at www.prwatch.org, Common Cause (www.commoncause.org), ProgressNow (http://www.progressnow.org), People for the American Way (www.pfaw.org) and Color of Change (http://colorofchange.org).
Possible Actions You Can Take
Here is an electronic petition, you can sign at Common Cause.
Here below is a sample letter you can send or adapt to corporate sponsors of ALEC.
I am asking your company to withdraw from its association with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). This membership aligns you and your stockholders with a partisan drive to promote laws, such as “Stand Your Ground” and conceal and carry reciprocity that promote vigilantism, and other laws that are destructive to public schools and voter registration. The practices of ALEC promote secrecy in the development of laws that affect the public good.
You company probably joined ALEC to get help in lobbying for legislation that impacts your business. But ALEC’s agenda these days puts the pursuit of private profit ahead of the public interest. It pulls business leaders like you into a radical ideological crusade involving issues that have nothing to do with your company.
The undersigned urge you to join leaders of Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Intuit and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in withdrawing from ALEC. Be a good corporate citizen. Protect your company’s good name.