The non-partisan, conservative leaning American Legislative Exchange Council has excelled at producing model legislation that several states have passed into law over the last three years. But the group's success seems to have given liberals and left-leaning groups a large target, with recently some of ALEC's largest and wealthiest corporate supporters cutting ties.
The latest attacks on ALEC came in early April as the group Color of Change launched a frontal attack after the Trayvon Martin case came to light. ALEC had supported model legislation such as Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine bills, both championed by the National Rifle Association.
Now some heavyweight companies such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and Kraft have pulled their support from ALEC. On Monday, Procter & Gamble announced they would follow suit and become the 12th company to announce their intention to not support the organization moving forward. A company spokesperson for the consumer product giant says ALEC is not helping them with customer loyalty and support.
"Decisions about which memberships we retain are guided by budgetary considerations, value to the business and engagement on issues core to our ability to compete in the marketplace," wrote External Relations Manager Elizabeth Ratchford in an email.
But instead of standing its ground, ALEC has instead chosen to retreat and will no longer focus on topics that are not based on economic issues.
"Today we are redoubling our efforts on the economic front, a priority that has been the hallmark of our organization for decades," said the group's chairman, Indiana State Rep. David Frizzell (R-Johnson County). "We are eliminating the ALEC Public Safety and Elections task force that dealt with non-economic issues and reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy."
Republican State Rep. Jerry Madden of Texas chairs the Public Safety Task Force and although he is disappointed the committee is disbanding, he said many of the issues will be transferred to other committees.
"ALEC's decision won't impact the important issues we've worked on," Madden told The Christian Post. "But I will say this, these groups are targeting ALEC because when conservatives get together, we influence state and federal policy in a major way and these groups are scared of us – and should be."
The elimination of the Public Safety Task Force hits at the heart of one of the group's major champions and biggest supporters: the powerful National Rifle Association.
"I think ALEC is making a huge error in judgment," said one lobbyist who is close to the NRA. "The NRA has stood by and defended ALEC on a number of occasions and for them to turn on them as a result of an unfortunate incident in Florida will not produce the results they envision."
While responding to the backlash by large-scale corporations on one front, the group is also dealing with a complaint that has been made to the Internal Revenue Service on Monday by Common Cause, accusing ALEC of spending over 60 percent of its resources on lobbying efforts.
"Legally, for ALEC to claim tax status as a charity, no part of it can be influencing legislation," said Common Cause CEO and former Democratic Congressman Bob Edgar in a conference call.
ALEC's attorney responded and called Common Causes allegations "frivolous."
"The attacks on the ALEC are based on patently false claims being made by liberal front groups that differ with ALEC on philosophical terms," said attorney Alan Dye in a press statement Monday.
"The current complaint mostly ignores applicable law and distorts what it does not ignore. After three decades of counseling clients on nonprofit and federal disclosure requirements, it's clear to me that this is a tired campaign to abuse the legal system, distort the facts and tarnish the reputation of ideological foes," explained Dye.
"Without question, Common Cause is a partisan front group masquerading as an ethics watchdog."
Notable companies such as Reynolds American, AT&T and Koch Industries have expressed continued support for ALEC's mission, and plan to remain involved in the organization.
Correction: Tuesday, April 24, 2012:
An article on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, about large corporations pulling their support from ALEC incorrectly reported that Wal-Mart is no longer a member. It is still a member of ALEC at this point.