ColorOfChange.org calls on AT&T to stop funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

Staff reports

ColorOfChange.org members began making phone calls to AT&T headquarters to demand that the company stop funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) because of the group's role in the spread of discriminatory voter ID laws, and "stand your ground" laws like the one that has prevented justice for Trayvon Martin in Florida. News broke last week that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, and Intuit have ended their relationship with ALEC. Today ColorOfChange.org called on AT&T to follow suit.

"After hearing from us about ALEC's involvement in voter suppression, major corporations like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Kraft have done the right thing and decided to stop funding the group," said Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org. "But despite numerous letters, emails and telephone calls from ColorOfChange, AT&T seems unconcerned their dollars are helping to suppress the black vote, support shoot first laws and undermine our democracy. It’s time that At&T hears the voices of people all across the country who expect better."

ALEC has drafted and distributed model legislation that has formed the basis for restrictive and discriminatory voter ID bills advanced in numerous state legislatures this year, bills that would require voters to produce specified types of photo identification at the polls. ColorOfChange cited the tragedy of Trayvon Martin's death – and the law that has prevented his killer from being arrested – as another example of how ALEC's agenda is dangerous for people of color. The NRA and ALEC exported Florida's “stand your ground” law to more than 20 states across the country.

"Through our conversations with corporations supporting ALEC, we've realized that many of these companies are not educated about the dangerous legislation that ALEC pushes," said Robinson. "Now that we've succeeded in shining a light on what ALEC is really about, these corporations are severing ties. They know they owe it to their customers to do just that. We applaud the corporations that have cut ties with ALEC, and we continue to call on all major corporations to stop supporting voter suppression through ALEC. Our members are prepared to hold accountable companies that continue to participate in ALEC's attack on voting rights."

Beginning in December, more than 85,000 ColorOfChange members signed a petition calling on ALEC’s corporate sponsors to stop funding the group given its role in voter suppression. After the campaign launched last year, ColorOfChange staff began reaching out to major corporations privately to convey the concerns of ColorOfChange members, educate corporations about the full range of what they are funding, and give them a chance to act. Coca-Cola became the first public target in the ColorOfChange campaign late last week, and quickly moved to end its relationship with ALEC. AT&T is the second corporation ColorOfChange has targeted publicly, and the group said it will announce more corporate targets this week.

The ColorOfChange petition can be found here: http://www.colorofchange.org/campaign/alec/

In addition, more than 170,000 CoC members have signed the petition calling on the Department of Justice to take over the Trayvon Martin case, arrest Martin's killer, and launch an independent investigation into the Sanford Police Department's mishandling of the case. The petition can be found here: http://www.colorofchange.org/campaign/trayvon/

Over the past year, groups including the Center for Media and Democracy, Common

Cause, Progress Now, and People of the American Way have been working to expose ALEC, and the ColorOfChange campaign has built upon this work. CREDO Action joined the ColorOfChange campaign last year shortly after it launched, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee also joined the campaign this week.