PepsiCo, the world’s second largest beverage company, has ended its partnership with ALEC, the controversial right-wing group that lobbies for voter suppression efforts. Pepsi’s move, which actually came in January but was first reported this morning by NPR, may also have had a role in compelling Coca-Cola to drop its support for ALEC.
Yesterday, progressive advocacy group Color of Change announced a boycott effort targeting several other corporations that are still members of the group, which for years has partnered with elected officials at a state level to draft and pass controversial, far-right legislation. Just a few hours later, Coke announced that they too are severing ties with the ALEC. As NPR reported today:
It’s part of a much broader campaign to spotlight companies that sell products to a public that might object to hard-line conservative policies such as stand your ground laws or requirements that voters show a photo ID at the polls.
Some civil rights groups say voter ID laws are discriminatory and suppress minority voter turnout.
“The clear and simple message was that you can’t come for black folks’ money by day and try to take away our vote by night,” said Rashad Robinson, director of ColorOfChange.
ALEC has also been cited as the driving force behind “Stand Your Ground” laws which have contributed to cases like Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon in February, remains free thanks to Florida’s version of the bill, which ALEC now uses as a template when introducing similar bills across the country.
Yesterday, the Center for American Progress released an extensive new report explaining ALEC’s efforts to disenfranchise voters.
In a Jan. 25, 2012 letter to Color of Change, Pepsi’s Vice President of Public Policy & Government Affairs, Paul Boykas, wrote:
As we discussed, PepsiCo has been a member of the bipartisan group of state legislators ALEC, for the last decade, where we largely focused on issues raised by discriminatory taxes. We were not involved in the discussion on voter registration, nor do we serve on the Task Force which reviewed the proposals. In addition, PepsiCo pays the minimal, standard membership fee to ALEC and thus does not have influence over issues in which we do not actively engage. … Please note, at this point in time, PepsiCo is not a member of ALEC, as of 2012, as our membership expires each year.