Posted by Rebekah Wilce on April 05, 2012

Take Action Coke Postcard 2011Public interest groups campaigning to convince Coca-Cola to break ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) scored a major victory yesterday when Coke announced it had "elected to discontinue its membership with" ALEC.

According to a statement Coke made to the Washington Examiner, "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. We have a long-standing policy of only taking positions on issues that impact our Company and industry."

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) launched its public campaign against Coca-Cola in August 2011, asking Coke "to stop funding the American Legislative Exchange Council, the corporate bill mill undermining our democracy," and pointing out: "Your financial support underwrites ALEC's agenda to:

  • Suppress voting by students and others through restrictive Voter ID laws.
  • Push climate change denial and restrict protections for our environment.
  • Undermine public schools by using tax dollars to subsidize for-profit schools.
  • Limit consumers' rights and the basic right of workers to organize.
  • And privatize and ration Medicare and Social Security, as well as other government services."

CMD's campaign sent emails and postcards to Coke CEO Muhtar Kent. Gene Rackley, Director of Public Affairs and Communications at Coca-Cola Refreshments, had been on the ALEC corporate ("Private Enterprise") board. The ALEC website no longer listed Coke on the corporate board as of last week.

ALEC Exposed - A project of CMDColor of Change (CoC) launched an allied campaign targeting ALEC corporations, including Coca-Cola, in December 2011. Its petition drive resulted in over 85,000 signatures. CoC has focused on ALEC's role in so-called "voter ID" legislation ALEC approved as a "model," which will make it more difficult for citizens to exercise their right to vote. Several states have adopted bills with similar restrictions over the past two years, even though many civil rights groups, such as the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, CoC, and others -- including CMD/PRWatch -- have noted that these voter restrictive bills will have adverse consequences on communities of color, the elderly, and college students.

CoC announced a public boycott of Coke yesterday, joined by other public interest groups. Coke published its statement backing out of ALEC within five hours.

Coke's precipitous exit from the corporate bill mill comes on the heels of the quiet withdrawal of Pepsi from ALEC membership. Wal-Mart and Kraft Foods issued statements, similar to Koch Industries, sticking with ALEC, but several corporations that have served as ALEC leaders have been silent in the face of the growing controversy surrounding ALEC's agenda on guns, voting, and other matters.

CMD launched a new set of petitions to all the corporations remaining on ALEC's corporate board last week in the wake of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. Click here to tell ALEC companies to stand down!

Comments

# of Board of Directors (26)
# of Democrats (2 or 7.69%)
# of Republicans (24 or 92.31%)

How to check on ALEC's 'model' legislation in your state
1) eg, take a look at Florida's new voter restrictions bill, below
2) Copy some of the language and put it in your Google search window, eg "Before engaging in any voter registration activities, a third-party voter registration organization must..."
3) See if your state pops up in the Google list, eg South Carolina, you're right after Florida w/ a new voter restriction bill w/ similar language -- hmmm -- an organized state-by-state, national campaign re restricting voting, right before the prez election -- surprised?

Florida voting legislation -- http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String&URL=0000-0099%2F0097%2FSections%2F0097.0575.html

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One example of new ALEC-styled voting in Florida and point of view response from Seminole County

http://seminoledemocrats.blogspot.com/2011/04/florida-gop-legalizes-voter-suppression.html
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You have 48 hrs to turn in that voter registration form, or else ....

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/03/28/453259/voter-registration-groups-halt-florida-efforts-due-to-anti-voter-election-law/

I have only recently become aware of your group “Color of Change”. I intend to conduct a bit of investigation into your group’s goals, methods, funding and contacts in order to determine the nature of it. These points are more important to me than ones politics as there are widely varying political stands, some diametrically opposed to others and this is to be not only accepted but in some cases applauded. In regard to the four ‘principles or characteristics’ enumerated above while there may be a certain amount of variance between differing groups with some of these there must be certain legal, moral, ethical and political constraints observed by all groups who operate in a honest and above board fashion in a civilized society. One would say for instance that blackmail would be unacceptable on legal and moral grounds, while perhaps slanderous or libelous issues would be objectionable on both legal and ethical grounds, etc.
Some groups such as Media Matters for America attempt to coerce sponsors and supporters of groups and entities for political views which they find objectionable, in other words, divergent views or anyone or any entity with a view unlike their own cannot be tolerated and must be silenced . Groups such as these are universally intolerant and have a proclivity towards radical leftist and violent elements in society and brutally repressive and generally failed states wherever they enjoy success.
The reasons for their universal fear of dialog and open, free debate is that they often find themselves defending the indefensible, supporting lies versus obvious truth and basically covering up genocidal programs and governments which they support worldwide.
It is my intention t familiarize myself with groups of this nature and to the best of my ability draw attention to them and basically cleanse them using the light of day and public exposure to allow people to observe their methods and sources of money and information. Also where appropriate it is extremely useful to employ counter boycotts such as those used in the recent Rush Limbaugh/Catholic Choice controversy. These can be very effective as they highlight not just the leanings of the objects of the boycott but also their loyalty and strength of conviction, which many feels goes directly to honesty. This is again extraordinarily important to those in business especially when trying to build a loyal customer base. I am but one person but my voice may be raised as loud as is necessary to help in saving my country and our freedoms and American life style.
I shall look forward to learning about your organization and its personnel, methods, goals and funding etc. and passing this information on to as many interested and involved parties as I can. Thank You, Rich in New Mexico.

Bill Moyers presents "United States of ALEC," a report on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of -- ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.