Campaign Urges Corporations to Pull Support from ALEC

Coca-Cola announced yesterday that it would pull all support and membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Its announcement came in response to a campaign recently launched by ColorofChange.org asking businesses to pull sponsorship from ALEC. PepsiCo, whose membership expired in January, told Color of Change that it would not renew for 2012.

ALEC is an organization made up of corporations and legislators who write and promote often extreme right-wing legislation. The majority of voter suppression laws that have swept the country in the past year were written and promoted by ALEC, as have most anti-union, anti-environmental, and anti-regulatory legislation. ALEC was also behind the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida that has provided a defense for Trayvon Martin’s killer. ALEC claims to have about 1,000 of its bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law.

98% of ALEC’s revenue comes directly from corporations and corporate foundations. Those who financially support ALEC include ExxonMobil (who gave $1.4 million from 1998-2009), the Koch family (amount is unreported, but noted to be well over $1 million), and the Coors family. ALEC political members most notably include Gov. Jan Brewer, Gov. Scott Walker, Gov. John Kasich, Gov. Rick Perry, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

ColorofChange.org has noted ALEC’s position in promoting voter suppression and its particular disenfranchisement of people of color. Voter suppression bills based on ALEC’s model have been introduced in 34 states and have passed in 7. The laws have the potential to disenfranchise up to 5 million people in the U.S. and are specifically designed to target people of color, young people, women, and people living in poverty.

In their campaign urging corporations to pull all sponsorship of ALEC, ColorofChange.org is drawing public attention to corporate sponsorship for voter suppression laws and effectively increasing public pressure in holding corporations accountable. Walmart is the next corporation that the campaign hopes to target.

Take action and support the campaign here.

Xavier University Will Not Provide Contraception Coverage

Xavier University announced yesterday that it will no longer provide contraceptive coverage for its employees. Xavier, a Jesuit university in Cincinnati, Ohio, said that its employee insurance plans will no longer cover birth control as of July 1. In his letter to the faculty announcing the change, Xavier president Michael J. Graham wrote that he was prompted to review the school’s health plan in light of the Obama Administration’s recent announcement that employers’ insurance plans must include contraception coverage.

In his letter (PDF) obtained by the Cincinnati Enquirer, Graham wrote, “as a Catholic priest and as president of a Catholic university, I have concluded that, absent a legal mandate, it is inconsistent for a Catholic institution to cover those drugs and procedures the Church opposes. Consequently, I have directed our Office of Human Resources to work with our insurance carrier, Humana, to no longer cover sterilizations and contraceptives, except for cases of medical necessity for non-contraceptive purposes, effective as of July 1, 2012.”

According to Reuters, the officials at Xavier would not comment on the change or indicate if they knew that the health plans covered contraception. Some members of the faculty and student body objected to the ruling and a committee of faculty members sent a letter to Graham expressing their outrage.

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