Common Cause Hails Latest ALEC Departures

WASHINGTON — The news that five more major corporations have withdrawn from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is a victory for Americans who favor strong laws protecting voting rights, clean air and water, public schools and other vital public services, Common Cause said today.

“The ALEC exodus continues because more and more companies are paying attention to the concerns of shareholders and customers who see that ALEC is dedicated to putting the private interests of its corporate sponsors ahead of the public good,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “We’re seeing the power of citizen activism at work.”

With today’s announcement that John Deere, CVS Caremark, MillerCoors, Hewlett-Packard and Best Buy have severed ties with ALEC, the tally of departing companies has reached at least 25. Firms leaving ALEC earlier include Walmart, Coca-Cola, Pepsico, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Amazon, and Johnson & Johnson.

ALEC’s agenda and lobbying efforts have attracted increasing public scrutiny since the publication last year of a trove of more than 800 “model” bills pushed by ALEC and its member companies in state legislatures across the nation. Much of the legislation was drafted by ALEC’s corporate members, whose representatives sit and vote as equals with state legislators on ALEC task forces that decide to include it on ALEC’s list of model bills.

In April, Common Cause filed a “tax whistleblower” complaint against ALEC, asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether the group’s lobbying violates the terms of its federal tax-exempt status. The complaint was supported by nearly 5,000 pages of ALEC records – emails, “issue alerts,” legislative scorecards and other materials — documenting ALEC’s lobbying. ALEC is organized under a section of federal tax law that allows its corporate supporters to deduct contributions to it from their federal taxable income; the law also limits ALEC’s lobbying activity and ALEC has sworn on annual tax filings that it does no lobbying.