Coca-Cola pulls support for group connected to voter suppression

The right wing funded group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and it’s generic sounding name has been connected to two recent and wholly unrelated stories.  You may have heard of ALEC recently for lobbying with the NRA for the horrific “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida which allowed George Zimmerman to walk out of a Sanford police station after killing Trayvon Martin.  Because of the “Stand Your Ground” law, Zimmerman was able to claim “self-defense” (even though all evidence points to him stalking and then shooting Trayvon) and use lethal force.

The latest is that ALEC is also connected to voter suppression efforts across the country. For that reason, Color of Change has pressured Coca Cola to cease it’s membership with ALEC — and did they! Within 5 hours of that petition going live, Coca Cola pulled the plug and put out this statement (Via ThinkProgress):

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.

It’s great that Coca-Cola swiftly took the appropriate action, but I can’t help thinking about how disturbing it is that ALEC has so much influence in this country.  This is a group most people have never even heard of until they learned about Trayvon Martin’s case — apparently while we were paying attention to things like Rush Limbaugh saying offensive things on the radio, this well-funded group was changing our laws and restricting access to our right to vote.

Update: Pepsi has joined Coca-Cola in pulling it’s support for ALEC.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted April 5, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Pepsi was actually before Coca-Cola in pulling out from ALEC. They stopped being members at the beginning of this year; they had let their membership expire without renewal.

    http://www.npr.org/2012/04/05/150013705/boycotts-hitting-group-behind-stand-your-ground

  2. Posted April 6, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I can appreciate the fact that Coca-Cola took the action of disassociating themself with the American Legislative Exchange Council, yet, I wonder what their true motivation was. Had the events not occurred, would they have ever thought of ending this support? Corporate Social Responsibility is a matter I take seriously and feel if a company is truly set in doing this then they should do it in a proactive manner. Reaction to a hot topic like this tells me nothing more than the presence of a good public relations department in their organization. This is not the brand of an effective CSR for an organization and one that tells me there are likely other organizations they may be associated with that will lie in wait until issues are to arise. To take this a step further, what is the responsibility of society towards companies like this? Being informed about what the true character of a company is a shared responsibility of the consumer and should effect their purchasing decision as much, if not more than the price and quality of the product. Unfortunately, we as a society do not seem to approach a majority of our purchasing decisions in this manner and though this is a reality, it is truthful nonetheless. Thanks for your post!

    John Miller
    Graduate Student
    http://www.drury.edu

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