The American Legislative Exchange Council is a low-profile interest group with high-profile corporate members that aims to write and pass business-friendly laws, but it's tough to argue what one of its successes, Florida's Stand Your Ground self-defense law, has to do with business, and that's why the group was dropped by Coca-Cola Monday. The decision came after Color of Change pushed Coca-Cola to drop ALEC over the Florida law blamed for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, NPR's Peter Overby reports. "We have a longstanding policy of not taking positions on issues that don't have a direct bearing on our company or on our industry," Coca-Cola said in a statement. However, it took a long time for that longstanding policy to be implemented by Coca-Cola, because ALEC has been pushing laws that don't have much to do with selling soda for some time.
What is ALEC?
ALEC was once more known for crafting for pro-business legislation, like laws that curb union power, but in recent years its social issues legislation has caught notice, Overby reports. ALEC is behind voter ID laws that civil rights groups say suppress voter turnout. It turned Florida's self-defense law into model legislation that is now law in 23 states. It turned Arizona's controversial immigration law into model legislation for other states to adopt. In 2010, the groups's policy director Michael Bowman told NPR that ALEC's small staff doesn't actually write legislation -- "Most of the bills are written by outside sources and companies, attorneys, [and legislative] counsels." So if ALEC's focus has shifted, that would presumably due to a shift in the interests of its corporate members and their attorneys, and not among the staff of ALEC itself.