Wal-Mart dumped ALEC and gave the reason as ALEC’s departure from Jeffersonian free market principles; a.k.a. Wal-Mart hinted ALEC has become un-American.
In a statement, Wal-Mart representative Maggie Sans wrote, “Previously, we expressed our concerns about ALEC’s decision to weigh in on issues that stray from its core mission ‘to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets…We feel that the divide between these activities and our purpose as a business has become too wide. To that end, we are suspending our membership in ALEC.”
Wal-Mart claimed that ALEC was no longer as interested in Jeffersonian free market principles as they were other partisan political issues. Two of those unnamed political issues are most certainly voter ID and stand your ground laws.
Some of the statements from businesses who have dumped ALEC have blown the lid off the true goals of the formerly secretive organization, Procter & Gamble said, “On Friday afternoon, we learned that P&G began reviewing its membership in January and recently decided not to rejoin ALEC in 2012. External Relations Manager Elizabeth Ratchford told us via email that, ‘Decisions about which memberships we retain are guided by budgetary considerations, value to the business and engagement on issues core to our ability to compete in the marketplace.’”
Yum! Brands, operator of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell cited ALEC’s secretive behind closed doors policymaking, “ColorOfChange.org Executive Director Rashad Robinson said in a statement, This week, ColorOfChange members have been calling executives at Yum! Brands to ask the company to end its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Today, employees in Yum! Brands’ corporate headquarters have told our members and ColorOfChange staff that the company has in fact dropped ALEC. In doing so, the operator of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell has restored our belief that it stands in favor of crafting legislation in view of the public, rather than behind closed doors.”
The insights provided by former members give us a glimpse of what ALEC’s true priorities are. The organization wraps itself around Jeffersonian principles, but their real motivations are to carry a far right wing ideological agenda of secret policymaking and vote suppression.
Wal-Mart is sensitive to its public image, and with good reason given its business model, but to accuse ALEC of drifting away from Jeffersonian principles was a serious allegation that struck at the very core of the organization’s public façade. Of course, the allegation contains more than a healthy bit of irony as few companies have done as much to destroy workers’ rights, small businesses, and free markets as Wal-Mart. Sam Walton’s baby calling another organization un-American is a serious pot meets kettle moment.
Each company that dumps ALEC punches another hole in the American Legislative Exchange Council’s public image. Being associated with ALEC is now bad for business, and in these economic times, not even a giant like Wal-Mart can afford the unnecessary bad publicity that comes from associating with ALEC.
The public exposure brought on by the boycott means that it will be more difficult for ALEC to inhabit the dark corners of our democracy.
No criticism from a former member could be sharper than Wal-Mart’s allegation that ALEC is no longer in step with the views of one of our Founding Fathers. We already knew that ALEC was actively working to subvert our democracy, but according to Wal-Mart the group has also become un-American.
What is most devastating for the American Legislative Exchange Council is that the more companies depart, the more their former veil of secrecy shatters.
It turns out that right wing corporate billionaires who owe their success to the country that gave them the opportunity may be as un-American as they come.