On Thursday, online retailer Amazon announced at its shareholder meeting that it will cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the right-wing policy group that has worked to suppress the black vote. The announcement came as ColorOfChange, the nation’s largest black online civil rights organization, tried to deliver more than 500,000 petition signatures to the annual meeting.
In response to a shareholder’s question, general counsel Michelle Wilson said Amazon has decided not to renew its membership with ALEC.
“This year, we’ve decided not to renew with ALEC, and it’s because of positions they’ve taken not related to our business,” Wilson said, according to the Seattle Times.
Thursday’s “announcement marks a major victory for hundreds of thousands of people nationwide who have said they believe in transparency and know that ALEC threatens the ability for everyday people to participate fully in democracy,” ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson told Colorlines.com. “In deciding to part ways with ALEC, Amazon has acknowledged that it can’t in good conscience market its services to Black communities while at the same time handing over customers’ dollars to a right-wing think tank that has worked to suppress the Black vote.”
In a story published last month, Colorlines’ voting rights investigative reporter Brentin Mock called ALEC a “state law-crafting body that acts as a sorta SXSW for conservative legislators and corporate executives nationally to share ultra-conservative ideas and convert them into state laws.”
Mock noted most of those ideas and laws add up to infringement on citizens’ rights by attacking labor unions, public education and environmental regulations. “ALEC is responsible for spreading the scourge of Stand Your Ground gun laws, which helped keep Trayvon Martin’s killer out of jail, and democracy-stunting voter ID laws,” Mock wrote on Colorlines.com.
Amazon became the 16th company to announce that it has dropped ALEC since ColorOfChange launched its campaign targeting ALEC’s corporate sponsors. Amazon joins Procter & Gamble, Yum! Brands, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Mars Inc., Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Intuit, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Reed Elsevier (owner of LexisNexis and publisher of science and health information), Kaplan, Scantron, American Traffic Solutions and Arizona Public Service.