Liberal activists are waging a “coordinated intimidation campaign” to bleed the American Legislative Exchange Council of corporate support, the legislators group charged today.
The organization issued its strongest statement since advocacy groups such as Color of Change began pressuring corporations to back out of supporting ALEC for its promotion voter ID laws that critics say discriminate against minorities. ALEC has also been accused of promoting self-defense measures such as Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, connected to the slaying of teenager Trayvon Martin.
“We find ourselves the focus of a well-funded, expertly coordinated intimidation campaign,” ALEC Executive Director Ron Scheberle said in a statement. “Our members join ALEC because we connect state legislators with other state legislators and with job-creators in their states. They join because we support pro-business policies that promote innovation and spur local and national competitiveness.”
On Tuesday, fast food giants McDonald’s and Wendy’s joined sponsors including Kraft Foods and Coca-Cola in saying they would no longer fund ALEC activities.
Lobbyists for the companies say they’re worried that ties to ALEC could stoke negative perceptions of their brands and hurt their corporation reputations in Washington, D.C., and state capitals.
Roll Call reported Monday that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which contributed more than $375,000 to support the group’s educational programs in the past two years, would make no future grants.
Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, said his group’s members are using their power as consumers to reach out to corporations.
“Of course ALEC doesn’t want to talk about its role in voter suppression, or in spreading the deadly ‘kill at will’ laws,” Robinson said in a statement. “Our members are engaging in the free marketplace of ideas.”
Scheberle said ALEC is “redoubling our commitment” to essential priorities.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.