Ford Motor Company has announced it’s dropping out of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the conservative think tank that passes along drafts of corporate-authored legislation to state politicians, who are then encouraged to introduce the bills as their own.
“As part of our annual budget review in 2015, we adjusted our participation in several groups. We will not be participating in ALEC in 2016,” a spokesperson for the car company confirmed to the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch and Talking Points Memo. ALEC gives members like Ford access to state legislators at all-expenses-paid conferences, and allows the companies to help shape “model legislation.”
Over the last several years, as reporters have shed a light on ALEC’s machinations, many companies have quit the organization. PR Watch, which tracks the group, has counted 108 corporations and 19 non-profits that have left ALEC since 2011, including Google, Microsoft, Shell, BP, American Electric Power, General Electric and eBay.
Funded by wealthy right-wing donors, including the Koch brothers, ALEC has encouraged legislation at the state level that would weaken unions and combat gun control regulations. In recent years, the group has attracted deeper scrutiny as it was revealed to be a major force behind state voter ID laws that effectively disenfranchise millions, and the stand-your-ground self-defense laws that played a role in the Florida shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Many of the companies that have left ALEC objected to its legislation bolstering fossil fuels at the expense of renewable energy. Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson recently reported on how ALEC is pushing laws to make it harder to implement solar power in Florida — and the opposition it faces from both climate activists and conservative grassroots groups that oppose the state’s energy monopolies.
“The facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring. And the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place,” Google Chairman Eric Schmidt told NPR’s Diane Rehm in 2014, explaining his company’s decision to quit the group. “And so we should not be aligned with such people. They’re just literally lying.”
Watch our 2013 documentary about ALEC: