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Spotlight on ALEC Grows, Some Big Corporations Drop Membership

Photo by Soozarty1/Flickr

Who would know more about the inner workings of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) than someone who was privy to them? Missouri State Rep. Mike Colona (D) is a former member of the group that likes to describe itself as simply a pro-growth, free-market organization. Here’s how he describes ALEC in a statement released this week:

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is not the innocuous, bipartisan organization it purports to be. Their agenda is radical and wrong for Missouri. I was a member and saw firsthand the sort of extreme legislation they push on state legislators around the country.

Colona’s statement came as a growing number of big corporations are leaving the right-wing group in light of new public attention to ALEC’s radical agenda. After a nationwide petition effort by Color of Change to persuade major corporations to drop their support of ALEC, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft Foods, Intuit, Wendy’s and McDonald’s have severed their ties with the group.

With financial and ideological links to the extremist Koch brothers, ALEC peddles fill-in-your-state’s-name model legislation to suppress voting rights and eliminate collective bargaining. Their model bills include anti-immigrant legislation, right-wing measures on education and tax breaks for corporations. The group has been instrumental in pushing the “stand your ground” gun laws now at the center of the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida.

Just this morning, a new report on ALEC’s influence in the Arizona legislature was released by People for the American Way, Common Cause, Center for Media and Democracy and Progress Now.

The comprehensive report found that Arizona’s large concentration of ALEC-member legislators, working hand in hand with the corporate leaders who make up ALEC’s membership, are continuing to endorse special interest legislation that harms ordinary people by limiting consumers’ rights, privatizing education and dismantling unions.

Says Marge Baker, executive vice president at People for the American Way Foundation:

Well-heeled special interests are circumventing the democratic system and bypassing Arizona’s citizens, who can’t match the level of access that ALEC provides. As a result, Arizonans are facing an endless assault from laws that serve the interests of the rich and powerful instead of everyday people.

Click here for the full report.

ALEC claims it is a victim of an “intimidation campaign.” But Common Cause President Bob Edgar tells Mother Jones:

It's no surprise that ALEC would call the free exercise of democracy an intimidation campaign….Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and we will continue to educate the public about ALEC's agenda, and highlight the influence of corporate money in our state laws and public policies.

ALEC has asked its supporters to come to its defense on Facebook and Twitter.

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