Not-So-Smart ALEC Loses Members Coca-Cola Over Voter Suppression

Update: Kraft Foods also severs ties with group behind Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law.

Posted: 04/05/2012 09:15 AM EDT
Coca-Cola-Coke, voting rights, Politics News, Voting Rights Act of 1965, ALEC

The American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, a corporate coalition that promotes limited government and controversial voting rights laws, is about to find out if things go better without Coke. After being pressured by the online advocacy group ColorOfChange.org, soft drink giant Coca-Cola has pulled its support from the council.

 

ColorOfChange launched a petition Wednesday and tweeted "@CocaCola is helping undermine voting rights. Tell them to stop" as part of its effort to get Coke to discontinue its membership. It also urged hundreds of its members to call the corporation to express their concern about ALEC’s promotion of voter suppression activities. Hours later, Coke caved, issuing a statement announcing its decision to end its association with the group.

 

“Our involvement with ALEC was focused on efforts to oppose discriminatory food and beverage taxes, not on issues that have no direct bearing on our business,” it said. “We have a long-standing policy of only taking positions on issues that impact our company and industry.”

 

ColorOfChange executive director Rashad Robinson also issued a statement applauding Coca-Cola’s decision.

 

“We continue to call on all major corporations to stop supporting voter suppression through ALEC. Our members are prepared to hold accountable companies that continue to participate in ALEC's attack on voting rights,” he said.

 

According to a report titled Voter Suppression 101 released Tuesday by the Center for American Progress, ALEC is spearheading voter suppression activities and charging fees to corporations like Koch Industries Inc., Wal-Mart and others and gives them access to members of state legislatures.

 

“Under ALEC’s auspices, legislators, corporate representatives, and ALEC officials work together to draft model legislation,” the report states.

 

As a national spotlight continues to shine on the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, other major corporations may soon follow Coca-Cola’s defection. ALEC also has reportedly played a role in the creation of the "Stand Your Ground" laws that have so far enabled George Zimmerman to elude arrest and prosecution in the Trayvon case.

 

Florida’s law, Media Matters reports, is almost identical to language in ALEC’s Castle Doctrine Act model legislation, which states that an individual “has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” In addition, the National Rifle Association is a major supporter of the group.

 

“If ALEC is in some way connected to Martin’s death, the public needs to know,” Robinson said in March.

 

UPDATE: Kraft Foods has also announced that it won’t renew its membership in the controversial group. when it expires this spring. “Our membership in ALEC expires this spring and for a number of reasons, including limited resources, we have made the decision not to renew,” Kraft Corporate Affairs Director Susan Davison told Politico.

 

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(Photo: Courtesy coca-cola.com)

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