This week, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is holding its annual meeting in Chicago. Today, thousands gathered outside the meeting to show their opposition to ALEC’s right-wing “model legislation.” Some of those present chose to highlight the ongoing role of the Walmart 1% in ALEC.
ALEC has faced a growing drumbeat of concern from citizens troubled by the group’s corporate-sponsored politicians and legislation. Drug companies, tobacco companies, the Koch brothers, and more are associated with ALEC, which offers corporations the opportunity to modify and create legislation with state legislators behind closed doors.
Last spring, Walmart, Amazon, McDonald’s, the Gates Foundation, and many others left ALEC following intense public pressure. In 2011, the Walton Family Foundation and Walmart were listed side by side as chairman level sponsors of ALEC’s annual meeting. According to our analysis, since 1990, Walmart’s PAC and Walton family members have given more than $1 million to politicians who have been board members or state chairs of ALEC.
Unlike Walmart and some of the Waltons’ peers in the foundation world, the Walton Family Foundation has not responded to calls to sever its ties with ALEC. And two other members of the Walmart 1% are affiliated to corporations with ALEC ties.
- Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!. Although ALEC is highly secretive about its membership, a document unearthed by Common Cause shows that Yahoo! Director of State Government Affairs Bill Ashworth was a member of the ALEC Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force as recently as August 2011. Yahoo! is led by Walmart board member Marissa Mayer, who is facing increasing controversy over some of her other political activities.
- Steven Reinemund, Exxon Mobil Board of Directors. Walmart director Steven Reinemund, Dean of Business at Wake Forest University, also serves on the ExxonMobil board. An Exxon Mobil executive currently sits on ALEC’s 14-member Private Enterprise Council.
ALEC has become notorious for backing some of the most controversial state laws in recent years, especially ones that attack public education, the environment, and civil rights. ALEC championed the Stand Your Ground laws associated with the killing of Trayvon Martin. In fact, a Walmart executive co-chaired the ALEC task force that endorsed Stand Your Ground. The group is a leading champion of voter ID laws that serve to disenfranchise the poor, people of color, and the elderly in particular. ALEC-endorsed bills would use taxpayer dollars to subsidize private schools, evade protections in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and eliminate job protections for teachers. Recently, ALEC has also been found leading the push to weaken or repeal the minimum wage.