Hours after the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and other progressive groups publicly called on McDonald's to drop its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the fast food giant announced it has left the organization. McDonald's is the fifth major corporation in a week to withdraw from ALEC, and groups are now calling for legislators to follow suit.
This morning, CMD, Color of Change, Common Cause, People for the American Way, Progress Now, and CREDO announced their members would be petitioning McDonald's, State Farm Insurance and Johnson & Johnson to withdraw from ALEC for pushing reactionary "model" bills like those that promote voter suppression and the "shoot first" law that is helping keep the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin from being arrested.
McDonald's stated it would be separating from ALEC hours after the civil rights and watchdog groups announced their campaign, and said they made the decision to leave ALEC at the end of March.
McDonald's is joining a stampede of ALEC private-sector members leaving the organization. Last week, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Intuit, and Kraft Foods all announced they would drop their ALEC membership, and yesterday, the Gates Foundation said they would not renew their grant to the organization.
ALEC receives ninety-eight percent of its funding from its corporate members and from ideological foundations like the Koch family foundations, and only through this funding can ALEC advance its agenda.
McDonald's Says It Left in 2011; Letter Says Otherwise
"While [we] were a member of ALEC in 2011, we evaluate all professional memberships annually and made the business decision not to renew in 2012," McDonald's spokesperson Ashlee Yingling told Mother Jones.
Yingling told the Huffington Post that "We're trying to correct the misinformation. We were a member last year and made the business decision not to renew in 2012."
But in a February 29, 2012 letter to Color of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson, McDonald's wrote:
"McDonald's is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It is important to note that while McDonald's is a member of ALEC's Commerce Committee, we are not a member of ALEC's Private Enterprise Board which recently passed the 'Voter ID' model legislation."
McDonald's clarified that it chose to leave ALEC in late March of 2011.
Legislators Urged to Follow the Lead of McDonald's, Coca-Cola
As ALEC's corporate members are urged to cut their funding and membership for the organization, several grassroots advocacy groups are urging legislative members to follow suit.
One Wisconsin Now has sent letters to nine Wisconsin State Senators asking that they too drop their memberships in ALEC. "ALEC's agenda is too radical and controversial for some of the largest corporations in the United States, organizations no one would ever accuse of being left-leaning," said One Wisconsin Now Deputy Director Mike Browne. "What does it say about the agenda of the Wisconsin legislators who insist on maintaining their ties to this extreme, right-wing organization?"
This article was updated to reflect McDonald's statement they dropped their ALEC membership in late March.