General Counsel Michelle Wilson announced at a shareholder meeting in Seattle this morning that Amazon has decided not to renew its membership in theAmerican Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) this year. Dave Johnson, a Fellow at Campaign for America's Future, is reporting from the shareholder meeting and confirmed to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that he heard the announcement.
Members of ColorOfChange.org, CREDO Mobile, People for the American Way, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, SumOfUs, and Fuse Washington carried a petition to the shareholder meeting containing over 500,000 signatures and calling on Amazon.com and other corporations to stop funding ALEC. According to ColorOfChange.org, organizational representatives tried to deliver the petition signatures to the meeting but were turned away.
Amazon.com's Involvement with ALEC
Amazon.com, a $48 billion multinational corporation, joined ALEC in 2011. Braden Cox, Amazon's Director of U.S. State Public Policy, sits on ALEC's Communications and Technology Task Force and was a featured speaker at the 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting at a Workshop titled, "Exploring ALEC Positions on E-Commerce and E-Taxes." Membership fees for that task force are $5,000, in addition to the $7,000 - $25,000 a corporation pays for membership in ALEC. In August 2011, Amazon was a "Director" level sponsor of ALEC's 38th Annual Conference. In 2010, that level of sponsorship amounted to $10,000.
As CMD's Brendan Fischer has reported, Amazon apparently became an ALEC member in part to oppose new state taxes on online sales, but Amazon's membership dues and sponsorship grants help fund the overall ALEC agenda, which includes controversial bills like "Stand Your Ground" and voter ID as well as anti-union, anti-immigrant, and anti-environmental measures. For more on Amazon's role in ALEC and how it demonstrates the leading role that corporations play in ALEC, see Fischer's article here.
The Rush to Dump ALEC
Corporations that have publicly cut ties to ALEC in recent weeks include Scantron Corporation, Kaplan Higher Education, Procter & Gamble, YUM! Brands, Blue Cross Blue Shield, American Traffic Solutions, Reed Elsevier, Arizona Public Service, Mars, Wendy's, McDonald's, Intuit, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola. The addition of Amazon.com brings the total to 16. Four non-profits -- Lumina Foundation for Education, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), and the Gates Foundation -- and 54 state legislators have also cut ties with ALEC.
Color of Change, along with CMD, Common Cause, People for the American Way, and others are asking now asking State Farm, AT&T, and Johnson & Johnson to cut ties with ALEC.