ALEC Corporate Board Chair Quits Over Climate Change, Renewables and Voting Rights

The corporate board chair of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the software company SAP America, has quit the group, telling CMD that it has made the decision to "immediately disassociate itself from ALEC" because of the group's position on climate change, opposition to renewable energy, its position on gun safety and its attacks on voter rights.

Facing increased criticism of its role opposing action to tackle climate change and for teaching climate change denial, ALEC has lost numerous major corporate funders in recent months, with tech firms Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Yelp all leaving. Most high profile was Google, with Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt telling the Diane Rehm show on NPR that it made a mistake in funding ALEC. "We should not be aligned with such people. They are just literally lying," Schmidt said in reference to ALEC's teaching climate change denial. "The company has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on fact," said Schmidt.

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The news on SAP leaving ALEC was first reported on Wednesday in the German magazine, Manager Magazin, which quoted as spokesperson in Germany that the decision was based on ALEC's "strange policies" on climate change and renewable energy. A SAP America spokesperson confirmed this to CMD, and said that other ALEC policies were also a reason including its position on gun safety and voting rights.

SAP is a particularly big loss for ALEC, because its representative at ALEC, lobbyist Steve Searle, is the Chair of ALEC's corporate board, and the former corporate chair of ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force. As a leader within ALEC, Searle would have helped drive the ALEC agenda, and would have had inside knowledge of what ALEC has planned for 2015 to continue to stonewall to tackle climate change.

Nick Surgey

Nick Surgey is CMD's Director of Research and an investigative reporter. His work has been featured in The Guardian, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post.