ALEC, really exposed

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In a sure sign that the grassroots campaign against ALEC is working, the corporate front group (otherwise known as the American Legislative Exchange Council) has made the blog pages of TIME Magazine.

The mag's Swampland blog today features a lengthy primer on the group and why several large corporations--including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, KRAFT Foods, and Intuit--have recently and very publicly split from ALEC.

The high-profile departures from ALEC were not set in motion nor fully explained by just a few days of public scrutiny. For the past four months, liberal advocacy groups, unions and activist investors have been reaching out to major corporations, asking them to further disclose their activity with ALEC or drop membership altogether. Things boiled over last week, but the underlying issues had been simmering for much longer.

ALEC has been so successful for three decades because the group and its activities have been able to maintain an extremely low profile. The large corporations were able to quietly hand over their wish list of bills to friendly legislators, and those bills were delivered to state houses around the country.

Swampland compares ALEC legislation to Swanson's TV dinners--they all come pre-packaged and need only a majority to become law.

But recent events have brought the group into the harsh light of public disclosure. First, it was revealed that ALEC legislation was behind the so-called "Stand Your Ground" law that has allowed George Zimmerman--the man who shot Trayvon Martin--to walk with being charged with a crime. (Kevin Mannix has tried to push the same bill in Oregon.)

Second, activist groups have been highlighting the fact that ALEC bills have been behind many of the harshest voter suppression laws in the country. That's led to groups like Color of Change to launch boycotts against the corporations associated with ALEC.

That work appears to be paying off. 

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