Ford has cut ties with the controversial lobby group ALEC, joining a roster of big corporations that have distanced themselves from the rightwing network that promotes policies at the state level to counter environmental regulations. The car giant confirmed to the watchdog the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that it had ended its membership. A company spokesman said that "we will not be participating in ALEC in 2016".
There was a time the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) enjoyed relative obscurity. It was recognized by some insiders and activists, but in general, ALEC was unknown and unrecognized by the public, which in turn made the lobbying group more effective in advancing its far-right policy agenda.
Those days are largely in the past. ALEC may not be a household name, but its profile has risen considerably in recent years -- and not always in ways beneficial to the group and its clients. As the organization has grown more notorious, some of its allies have decided to keep ALEC at arm's length. The Guardian reported yesterday on the latest departure from the group's client roster.
The announcement comes six months after Google announced it would cut ties with ALEC. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said at the time there was a "consensus within the company" that partnering with ALEC was a "mistake," especially in light of the way in which the group was "literally lying" about climate change.
Ford hasn't elaborated on exactly why it's parting ways with ALEC, though the lobbying group's opposition to action on global warming likely contributed to the decision. The Guardian's report added, "Ford strongly publicizes its support for environmental sustainability, which it says it has put at the heart of its business model. It advocates fuel economy in its cars and says it is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
The list of companies making similar decisions keeps growing. As we discussed in August, Microsoft severed its ALEC ties last summer, joining companies ranging from GM to CVS to MillerCoors, each of which have done the same.
This isn't just about the climate crisis. ALEC pushes a broad conservative agenda, partnering with business entities on a wide range of issues, from the culture war to the minimum wage to gun safety.
The more companies decide to walk away from ALEC, the more it affects the group's bottom line -- businesses finance the group's lobbying efforts -- but there's also the question of influence. ALEC has been powerful because policymakers saw it as an entity that represents some of the largest and wealthiest corporations on the planet.
When those corporations go their own way, the potency of ALEC's reach weakens.