A state senator from Georgia, Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) has left the American Legislative Exchange Council, the controversial legislative organization better known as ALEC. In a statement to the citizens' action group Better Georgia, Orrock denounced the group, calling it "radical," "dangerous" and accused it of "impeding democracy."
“As a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council for several years, having joined ALEC with the primary goal of better understanding the corporate-dominated organization, I know first-hand that ALEC is not the innocuous organization it claims to be," Orrock said.
Recently advocacy groups like Color of Change have brought pressure to bear on ALEC over its alleged efforts to disenfranchise minority voters, as well as its sponsorship of gun laws like Florida's "Stand Your Ground" rule. "Stand Your Ground" was cited by one of the early defense teams representing George Zimmerman, who gunned down unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Sandord, Florida in February.
"ALEC is underwritten by corporate dollars to push corporate financial interests that disadvantage middle-class and working families," said Sen. Orrock, "This group enrolls state legislators to promote its radical legislation in state after state, creating the false illusion of public support for its dangerous agenda. ALEC promotes legislation that suppresses voter participation, undermines state budgets and services, and impedes democracy."
Orrock was the only Democratic Georgia state senator in the group. With her withdrawal, she said, the group can no longer claim to be bipartisan. She issued a call for other lawmakers to withdraw from the group, saying, "Any lawmaker who cares more about Georgia residents than multi-national corporations should leave the group. We need to be focusing on real solutions for our state, not fanning the flames of wedge-issue politics.”
Several Georgia lawmakers have pledged to never join ALEC in the wake of Orrock's announcement, all Democrats, including Rep. Elena Parent, Rep. Scott Holcomb, Rep. Earnest Smith and Rep. Winfred Dukes. Two candidates for the State Assembly have also joined the pledge, Democrats Jason Esteves and Ronnie Mabra.
In addition to departures by lawmakers, ALEC has seen a parade of corporate sponsors divesting themselves of ties to the group, including Atlanta company Coca-Cola. Soft drink giant PepsiCo followed suit, as well as McDonald's, INTUIT and Kraft Foods.
UPDATE: This post has been edited from an earlier version that mistakenly listed State Farm Insurance as having left ALEC. Currently the company is still a member.