BREAKING: McDonald’s Becomes Fifth Major Company to Drop ALEC Membership [UPDATED]
Fast-food giant McDonald’s has ended its membership with ALEC, a conservative group that pushes voter suppression efforts to state legislators as cookie-cutter bills, and is the fifth major company to do so in the last week.
A company spokeswoman confirmed the decision in an email to Mother Jones:
“While [we] were a member of ALEC in 2011, we evaluate all professional memberships annually and made the business decision not to renew in 2012,” Ashlee Yingling, a McDonald's spokeswoman, wrote in an email. Yingling didn't mention any specific campaign or outside pressure as playing a role in the company's decision to leave ALEC.
McDonald’s joins Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft, and Intuit (the maker of TurboTax), all of which pulled from ALEC in the wake of a petition by Color of Change. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also announced it was pulling financial support from ALEC on Monday. The campaign is also calling on companies like Johnson & Johnson and State Farm to end their ties with the right-wing group.
“Major corporations like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Kraft understand that supporting voter suppression efforts and dangerous ‘Stand Your Ground’ legislation puts their brands at great risk in the black community,” Rashad Robinson from Color of Change told Mother Jones. “We hope that McDonald's, Johnson and Johnson, and State Farm also get that message. Today, our members are flooding these companies with phone calls to demand that they stop supporting ALEC.”
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.
UPDATE: Think Progress, our sister publication, notes that the decision is a "sharp break" from the company's recent comments:
It’s worth noting that McDonald’s most recent statement is a sharp break from their position just over a month ago. In a February 29 letter to Robinson, McDonald’s said that it remained a member of ALEC — although it disclaimed involvement with ALEC’s model Voter ID legislation which disenfranchises thousands of poor, minority and elderly voters.
Brian Stewart is the communications director at Generation Progress.