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Greg Webb
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ALEC Watches As Corporate Giving Retreats

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In response to a campaign by advocacy groups to urge withdrawal of corporate donations from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), its Executive Director, Ron Scheberle stated in an April 12 press release that “the people now attacking ALEC and its members are the same people who have always pushed for big-government solutions.” Scheberle re-stated ALEC’s mission to support free markets and limited government and called the recent efforts against ALEC a “campaign of intimidation.”

One source of the current conflict between conservative ALEC, touted by its own website as “the largest nonpartisan individual membership association of state legislators,” in the country, and advocacy groups, including Common Cause, and civil rights group Color of Change and others, is that ALEC supported the “Stand Your Ground” laws recently passed in many states.

The often-controversial ALEC listed its corporate donors on its website—and some of the donors, including AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Walmart, Coca-Cola and others—found themselves reflected in the public limelight in a way they may not have wished and have since become targets by the advocacy groups protesting the donors’ support of ALEC. The unwanted publicity is pushing corporations to re-think their corporate donation policies. Coca-Cola recently withdrew its support of ALEC.

Catalysts to this current spate of corporate donor withdrawals are the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, giving corporations the right to contribute directly to groups active in election campaigns, and the Trayvon Martin shooting death case where Stand Your Ground laws come under scrutiny. According to the Colorado News Leader, Stand Your Ground laws in some states, such as Florida, allow a person to use deadly force in a conflict if the person fears for his or her life, without having to try to back out of the conflict, while some states require a person attempt to remove himself/herself from the conflict.

Prior to mustering support for the Stand Your Ground laws in various states, ALEC had garnered support for the passage of state laws which require voters to show identification, which further undergirded the organization’s conservative stance.

ALEC’s current situation represents only one example of corporations re-evaluating their policies on donating to non-profit organizations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also feeling the pinch! With the forthcoming presidential election in the wings, we expect there may be additional changing of horses in the middle of the stream, in what were formerly stolid lists of corporate donors to non-profits.