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BREAKING: Wendy’s Ends ALEC Membership, Joining Six Others

Add fast-food burger joint Wendy’s to the list of businesses backing away from ALEC.

The company Tweeted on Tuesday night that it chose not to renew its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which pushes right-wing legislation like Voter ID laws to state legislators, because it “didn’t fit our business needs.” A spokesperson for Wendy’s confirmed the decision to Mother Jones.

“The tweet is correct. Wendy’s is not a member of ALEC. Last year, we made the decision not to renew for 2012," spokesman Bob Bertini wrote in an email to Mother Jones.

Wendy’s joins a growing list of major companies to sever ties with ALEC, including fellow fast-food company McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Kraft. Software maker Intuit has also pulled from the group and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it would stop giving financial support to ALEC in subsequent years.

Mother Jones’ Andy Kroll notes that Wendy’s decision is important based on their history of supporting conservative social issues:

Wendy's departure is arguably more significant than that of McDonald's given Wendy's past support for conservative and staunchly pro-industry causes. For instance, Wendy's International has funded the Center for Consumer Freedom, a phony grassroots group that fights regulation of the food and beverage industries. And Wendy's political action committee has given significantly more of its money in recent election cycles to Republican lawmakers than Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The news comes on the heels of a campaign by progressive groups, including Color of Change, asking companies to pull from ALEC. Last week, Campus Progress and the Center for American Progress released a report on ALEC’s role in voter suppression efforts.

On Wednesday morning, ALEC Executive Director Ron Scheberle issued a statement condemning the mass exodus of supporters:

“Today, we find ourselves the focus of a well-funded, expertly coordinated intimidation campaign,” he said. “For years, ALEC has partnered with legislators to research and develop better, more effective public policies – legislation that creates a more transparent, accountable government, policies that place a priority on free enterprise and consumer choice, and tax policies that are fair, simple and that spur the kind of competiveness that puts Americans back to work.”

Yet, as Campus Progress discovered in an investigation last year, ALEC has heavily influenced the wave of Voter ID laws across the country.

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

Image: Flickr / Chealion

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

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