Johnson & Johnson is the latest company to break away from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). On June 12, Johnson & Johnson announced it would stop funding the group that has pushed states to pass voter ID and stand-your-ground laws. Johnson & Johnson was one of ALEC's top corporate members, according to NJ.com, and even had a set on the organization's private enterprise board. This year, a number of companies stopped supporting ALEC. The companies include Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft Foods, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, McDonald's, Walmart, Amazon.com, Yum! Brands, and Procter & Gamble.
The announcement by Johnson & Johnson came after more than 2,200 members of CREDO reported calling the company urging them to stop supporting ALEC. Over 150,000 CREDO members signed a petition asking corporations to leave ALEC, and over 350,000 members of the progressive organizations Color Of Change, People for the American Way, Progressive Change Campaign Committee and SumOfUs signed similar petitions.
Color of Change, a civil rights group, announced earlier this month its $10,000 radio ad highlighting both voter identification and "Stand Your Ground" bills. The ad mentioned Johnson & Johnson's ties to ALEC. The ad ran in New Brunswick, NJ, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Sanford, Florida where Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. Color Of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson had an op-ed published in Newark's Star-Ledger a few weeks ago. In December, Color of Change launched a petition targeting ALEC's corporate sponsors.
"We have been in dialogue with ALEC for some time, and while we acknowledge ALEC’s recent decision to focus only on innovation and growth-supporting policies, we have decided to suspend our participation and membership," Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman, Carol Goodrich, said in a statement today.
Progressive organizations continue targeting ALEC supporters
Just how bad is ALEC? A petition by People for the American Way Foundation which urges corporations to stop funding the group, describes ALEC as a "group whose ideologically driven agenda has led to the reckless promotion of bills that harm consumers, endanger individuals and deny the fundamental, constitutional rights of millions." The website, alecexposed.com characterizes ALEC as a group that operates "behind closed doors" with state legislators to bring about the "changes to the laws" that corporations desire. According to the website, corporations fund almost everything ALEC does.
It is little wonder, given all that ALEC does, that progressive organizations continue to target ALEC's remaining supporters by enlisting its members to call corporations and sign petitions. Credo even has a sample script on its site so its members know what to say when calling. The petition by People for the American Way Foundation "strongly urges" companies to "do the right thing, and separate yourself from ALEC's extreme political, and reckless, agenda."
"We're continuing to reach out to corporations directly to tell them that now is the time to leave ALEC, and that our members are prepared to hold them publicly accountable if they refuse," said Color Of Change's Robinson.
"Johnson & Johnson’s departure from ALEC is a big victory, and the other corporate funders who have yet to leave ALEC should take note," said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way Foundation.
Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.