by Max Brantley
Add Walmart to the growing list of major corporations that have decided to drop financial support of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a thinly veiled corporate lobby that stocks compliant state legislators, usually Republican, with cookie cutter bills to advance the corporate agenda. Anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-health care reform and pro-gun are frequent themes. ALEC is also pushing voter ID laws aimed at suppressing turnout among minority, elderly and youth constituencies that lean Democratic.
Why would Walmart be uncomfortable backing this group, even with the occasional embarrassment of ALEC's support for the likes of "stand your ground" laws that have led to a rise in gun killings in sometimes dubious circumstances.
Think Progress, in reporting the development, cite state efforts in the West (and could they be far behind in Arkansas when the radical Republicans take control) to take control of federal lands for private exploitation and development. This happens to run counter to a Walmart program.
Wal-Mart’s decision to drop ALEC makes sense in the context of their successful “Acres for America” program. Since 2005, Wal-Mart has partnered with the National Fish and Wildlife Federation in an effort to conserve an acre of land for every one occupied by a Wal-Mart facility. As of January 2012, the project has protected 687,000 acres.
As Wal-Mart’s corporate website states:That promise reflected a company-wide dedication to sustainability and stewardship of our natural resources. With an initial $35 million commitment, Walmart expected to enroll an estimated 138,000 acres in the program by 2015. But by the end of 2010, it had far surpassed that benchmark, conserving more than 625,000 acres and connecting more than 6.7 million protected acres—an area larger than Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
Walmart made the announcement late Wednesday. It said it wanted to focus on the economy and cited no specific policy disagreement.
"Previously, we expressed our concerns about ALEC's decision to weigh in on issues that stray from its core mission 'to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets,'" Maggie Sans, Wal-Mart vice president of public affairs and government relations, said in a May 30 letter addressed to ALEC's national chairman and executive director.
"We feel that the divide between these activities and our purpose as a business has become too wide. To that end, we are suspending our membership in ALEC."
ALEC is simply a secretly funded cutout for the Republican Party agenda, including social causes that discriminate against millions of people who shop at Walmart. Maybe those are the "unique pressures" ALEC cited in explaining Walmart's decision.