Johnson & Johnson has decided to end their relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) following a pressure campaign from progressive groups. The New Jersey based company joins 17 others, including Coca-Cola, Kraft, Pepsi and Wal-Mart, who have left ALEC, the über-conservative, anti-labor think tank that writes and distributes model bills to state governments on behalf of their corporate backers.
Johnson & Johnson’s departure was preceded by a Color of Change radio campaign and PR blitz:
“With these ads, we are spreading the news about Johnson & Johnson’s ties to ALEC even more aggressively. Our goal is to help consumers understand that Johnson & Johnson helps fund a secretive and undemocratic organization that has passed laws that restrict access to the polls for Black folks, Latinos, low-income voters and other marginalized groups. The stakes are too high, and Americans deserve to know when their spending habits promote polices that are at odds with their values.
Robinson also took to the web and wrote an opinion piece for the NJ Voices column. It appeared on Monday and attempted to persuade the public to join in calling for Johnson & Johnson to leave ALEC:
For too long, ALEC operated in secret and its corporate members avoided public accountability for ALEC’s toxic agenda. But corporations are accountable to the consumers they serve, and hundreds of thousands of people are standing up to tell companies they can’t take our money with one hand and attack our rights with the other. As citizens and consumers, it is our right to use our voices and wallets to tell the companies that stock our shelves, feed our families and put Band-Aids on our cuts that they are accountable to us, the people who allow them to thrive and remain profitable.
As the public has become more educated about ALEC’s existence and the degree to which the organization wields power it has been quick to react. ALEC has changed course slightly, shying away from some voter suppression efforts, but is still responsible for countless policies that have reshaped American politics for the worse.
Legal issues now surround ALEC as well. Claims of tax fraud — running a lobbying firm disguised as a non-profit — are becoming more audible.