Walmart Latest Company to Pull Out of ALEC

June 1, 2012

By Janie Lorber, Roll Call

Walmart, the world’s No. 1 retailer and the nation’s largest seller of firearms, has cut ties with ALEC, the conservative nonprofit that has come under fire for promoting “Stand Your Ground” laws.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based company said Wednesday that it had suspended its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council, joining nearly 20 other firms that have abandoned the controversial group after Florida’s Stand Your Ground law was initially cited as a reason not to indict a man in the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin there.

“Previously, we expressed our concerns about ALEC’s decision to weigh in on issues that stray from its core mission ‘to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets,’” Maggie Sans, Walmart vice president of public affairs and government relations, said in a May 30 letter addressed to ALEC’s national chairman and executive director. “We feel that the divide between these activities and our purpose as a business has become too wide.”

The company has been a member of ALEC since 1993. Sans has served as the secretary of ALEC’s 21-corporation private enterprise for the past year.

The loss of such a prominent member could be disastrous for the organization, which is also trying to fend off accusations that it is illegally lobbying state lawmakers. The group, which is organized under tax code 501(c)(3) and is barred from political activity including lobbying, brings corporations and lawmakers together to craft and promote legislation. The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board said earlier this week that it will investigate complaints filed by Common Cause.

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