Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Progressives Compel Coca-Cola To Pull ALEC Support Over Its Support Of Voter Photo ID Laws

Think Progress

Prompted by a petition campaign by the progressive advocacy group Color of Change, Coca-Cola has pulled its support from ALEC, a right-wing corporate-funded front group which has been pushing voter photo ID laws around the country. The company released this statement moments ago:

The Coca-Cola Company has elected to discontinue its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). 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.

Impressively, Coke’s retreat came just five hours after Color of Change announced its petition, which read: “ALEC has pushed voter [photo] ID laws which disenfranchise large numbers of Black voters. Along with the NRA, ALEC also pushed a bill based on Florida’s ‘shoot first’ law – which has shielded Trayvon Martin’s killer from justice – into two dozen states across the country.”

Just this morning, the Center for American Progress released a report highlighting ALEC’s role in voter suppression:

ALEC charges corporations such as Koch Industries Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and The Coca-Cola Co. a fee 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. As ALEC spokesperson Michael Bowman told NPR, this system is especially effective because “you have legislators who will ask questions much more freely at our meetings because they are not under the eyes of the press, the eyes of the voters.”

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a heavily conservative organization funded by billionaires such as the Scaife family (Allegheny Foundation and the Scaife Family Foundation), the Coors family (Castle Rock Foundation), Charles Koch (Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation), the Bradley family (The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation) and the Olin family (John M. Olin Foundation) and corporations such as Altria, AT&T, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Koch Industries, Kraft, PhRMA, Wal-Mart, Peabody Energy, and State Farm. Such corporations represent just a fraction of ALEC’s approximately three hundred corporate partners. ALEC writes legislative bills that Republican governors and legislators introduce as their own in state legislatures - sometimes without remember to remove the ALEC identifier from the legislative text.

ALEC’s public safety and elections task force drafted the Voter ID Act in the summer of 2009, which would require “proof of identity” to vote. Those without a valid photo ID must fill out a provisional ballot that is only counted if the voter produces an ID at the county elections office. It also suggests that ID cards be made available free of charge to eligible voters without a valid driver’s license.

A year after the 2008 presidential election, ALEC ramped up its program to push for new voter identification laws in all 50 states. Since 2009, 33 states have introduced some form of photo ID bill, and 14 states have passed laws that now require voters to present a federal- or state-issued photo ID with an expiration date at the polls. The highest percentage of people who do hold one of the limited selection of photo ID's include senior citizens, college students, people with disabilities, people of color, and new Americans - the groups who voted most heavily for Barack Obama in 2008.


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