The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, said it is shutting down a task force that helped draft voter ID and “stand your ground” gun legislation after major firms such as Coca Cola and Kraft cut ties with the conservative group.
In eliminating the ALEC Public Safety and Elections task force, organization leaders said they would be “redoubling our efforts on the economic front” and taking its eye off issues unrelated to jobs, markets and competitiveness.
“While we recognize there are other critical, non-economic issues that are vitally important to millions of Americans, we believe we must concentrate on initiatives that spur competitiveness and innovation and put more Americans back to work,” the group said in a statement Tuesday.
Remaining task forces include Communications and Technology, International Relations, and Tax and Fiscal Policy.
After pressure and threatened boycotts by advocacy groups such as Color of Change, ALEC members such as Coca-Cola began abandoning the group earlier this month. Corporate dues – anywhere from $7,000 to $25,000 a year – help support ALEC’s operations.
ALEC, which sometimes refers to itself as an “idea laboratory,” has sparked controversy by backing and helping to craft legislation that includes the self-defense laws now central to the Trayvon Martin shooting case.
Lobbying group and major ALEC foe Common Cause called the task force closure “an important victory” and said that major companies such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Mars had recently also backed away from ALEC.
But Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, said ALEC’s announcement was a “PR maneuver to try to distance itself from its record of extremism.”
ALEC, which supports ideals of free markets and limited government, slammed critics for their “bullying, intimidation and threats.” Last week, Executive Director Ron Scheberle said that calls for ALEC members to jump ship amounted to an “intimidation campaign” by “the liberal attack machine.”