by Max Brantley
The Democratic Party is mobilizing, at last, against the American Legislative Exchange Council, a thinly veiled lobby and bill-writing machine for corporate America (Koch bros., particulary) and, primarily, Republican politicians. (Some Arkansas Democratic legislators have been ALEC stooges, too.)
Because ALEC is behind the cookie-cutter laws aimed at making it harder for minorities and poor people to vote, a Democratic group has urged boycotts against corporate supporters of ALEC, including Coca-Cola and Walmart. Coke has pulled its corporate support of ALEC as a result. Walmart? It's not ready to go that far, according to this report from a conservative news outlet.
Walmart didn't go as far as withdrawing support, but told Secrets: "Our membership in any organization does not affirm our agreement with each policy created by the broader group. Walmart has a long history of supporting voter rights, and we continue to be a strong proponent of this issue. In fact, Walmart was an active supporter in 2006 of the renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We believe every American should exercise their right to vote, and we have developed nonpartisan websites that provided thousands of our associates and customers with the tools they need to register to vote. One of Walmart’s basic beliefs is respect for the individual, and Walmart will continue to stand with all Americans in ensuring our right to vote."
It would be interesting if Walmart would identify all the ALEC legislative templates it opposes. Lower taxes? Less government regulation? Charter schools? To give the giant Arkansas retailer credit, it announced support for the Obama health care reform legislation in 2009. Some cynics have suggested corporate interest in moving aggressively into the health care business could have had something to do with it. Its political giving favored politicians who opposed health care reform.
UPDATE: An advocacy group applauds Coke's decision.
UPDATE II: Kraft and Pepsi have also ditched the partisan interest group. No more free cheese dip and soft drinks for Nate Bell, Missy Irvin and other ALEC adherents of the partisan Stepford conservative legislation factory.