The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Monday vowed to withdraw financial support for the American Legislative Exchange Council, an influential conservative nonprofit that drafts model bills for legislators.
The foundation contributed more than $375,000 to ALEC in the past two years, according to Roll Call.
"We have made a single grant, narrowly and specifically focused on providing information to ALEC-affiliated state legislators on teacher effectiveness and school finance," said Chris Williams, the company's spokesman.
Though the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was formed almost 40 years to organize conservative state legislators and allow them to share and replicate one another’s legislative ideas — and has been “soliciting more input from private sector members” about what is good for them for more than 20 years — it wasn’t until recently that it attracted almost any scrutiny for its promulgation of everything from Stand Your Ground laws to voter ID to business-friendly tort reforms to Arizona’s controversial immigration law to privatizing public education. That increased scrutiny may have just started to get costly for ALEC.
Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Color of Change, and several other groups have begun targeting influential sponsors of ALEC. Last week, Kraft Foods Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and Intuit Inc. announced they would no longer support the organization. Pepsi dropped out of ALEC in January.
Color of Change has set its sights on another member of ALEC, the telecom giant AT&T.
"After hearing from us about ALEC's involvement in voter suppression, major corporations like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Kraft have done the right thing and decided to stop funding the group," Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of Color of Change, said Monday. "But despite numerous letters, emails and telephone calls from ColorOfChange, AT&T seems unconcerned their dollars are helping to suppress the black vote, support shoot first laws and undermine our democracy. It’s time that At&T hears the voices of people all across the country who expect better."
Color of Change strategy director and head of the anti-ALEC campaign Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte last week told Raw Story that transparency is the best weapon of progressives and consumer advocates.
Color of Change, he said, plans to continue its campaign to publicly expose companies who still support ALEC. The group intends to mobilize supporters through a combination of email and social media.
With prior reporting by David Ferguson