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BREAKING: Kraft Ends ALEC Membership, Joining Coca-Cola and Pepsi

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Boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese are seen in this April 19, 2006, file photo in Milwaukee. Kraft Foods Inc. announced it was ending ties with ALEC, a group that pushes voter suppression efforts.

CREDIT: AP Photo / Morry Gash, file

Kraft Foods Inc. became the third major corporation to end its relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing group that advances voter suppression efforts and other controversial laws to state legislators, the company announced late Thursday night.

The announcement comes just days after progressive advocacy group Color of Change launched a campaign asking major companies to drop ALEC. And earlier this week, Campus Progress—along with our parent organization Center for American Progress and Legal Progress—released a new report detailing ALEC’s involvement with crafting Voter ID and other disenfranchising legislation.

Kraft officials explained their decision in an email statement to Reuters:

ALEC covers numerous issues but our involvement has been strictly limited to discussions about economic growth and development, transportation and tax policy. We did not participate in meetings or conversations related to other issues.

Our membership in ALEC expires this spring and for a number of reasons, including limited resources, we have made the decision not to renew.

Kraft Foods produces a number of popular items, including Oreo cookies, macaroni and cheese, Kool-Aid, and a range of other snacks. Republic Report’s Zaid Jilani and Lee Fang visited Kraft’s Washington, DC lobbying offices last week to ask about the group’s ties to ALEC. Watch the exchange here:

On Wednesday, Coca-Cola announced that it had “elected to discontinue its membership” with ALEC, according to a company statement. PepsiCo made the same decision a day later. A number of major corporations—including Wal-Mart, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor and Gamble, and UPS haven’t indicated whether they will remain members of the group.

(Previously: Coke and Pepsi Sever Ties With Right-Wing ALEC, Which Pushes Voter Suppression Efforts)

ALEC has been criticized recently for touting Stand Your Ground laws similar to the one on the books in Florida, which has helped keep George Zimmerman from being arrested. Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin earlier this year, but has told officers it was in self-defense.

Here’s more on ALEC’s role in voter suppression efforts, from our latest report:

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.”

Last year, a Campus Progress investigation revealed ALEC's involvement in Voter ID legislation.

Brian Stewart is the Communications Director at Generation Progress. You can follow him on Twitter @brianstewart.

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