Mars Inc., the maker of Skittles and other well-known candies, has dropped its membership with the influential American Legislative Exchange Council following pressure from liberal and progressive groups.

"The Color Of Change community is thrilled to learn that Mars has ended its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council," Executive Director Rashad Robinson said in a statement on Thursday. "We began communicating with Mars, Inc. in January, and today's announcement confirms that when corporate leaders become educated about ALEC's role in pushing voter suppression and Kill at Will bills nationwide, they quickly realize that association with ALEC is bad for business."

ALEC drafts model bills for legislators and has been a driving force behind voter ID laws, so-called "stand your ground" laws, business-friendly tort reforms, Arizona’s controversial immigration law, and efforts to privatize public education.

Despite its influence, the nearly forty-year-old group received little scrutiny until recently, when organizations like Common Cause, People for the American Way, Progress Now, the Center for Media and Democracy, CREDO Action and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee started a campaign to publicly expose companies who supported ALEC.

"Now Mars Inc. joins Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Intuit, McDonald's and Wendy's on the list of companies that have decided in recent months to end membership in ALEC and place the integrity of their brands above association with a shadowy policy group," Robinson said.

ALEC has decried the "well-funded, expertly coordinated intimidation campaign" against its corporate members, claiming the organization would only "redouble" their efforts to promote pro-growth, pro-jobs policies.

The large coalition of groups has since turned its attention to ALEC members State Farm, Johnson & Johnson, AT&T, Pfizer, and GlaxoKleinSmith.

“The public is fed up with big pharmaceutical companies pursuing profit over the interests of the average American. ALEC’s pro-corporate agenda to limit voting rights, undermine our public schools, assault collective bargaining and weaken laws protecting our environment is in diametric opposition to the public interest,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause. “This is neither good business nor responsible corporate citizenship.”

[Skittles candy via Shutterstock]