The foundation said it would not award another grant to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the face of criticism of the council's involvement in voting laws and in "stand your ground" gun laws such as one under scrutiny in the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida.As the result of the Color of Change campaign to educate and agitate among the corporate sponsors of ALEC, McDonald's has been proactive in clarifying their position with ALEC. They told Mother Jones that "it recently decided to cut ties with ALEC, the corporate-backed group that drafts pro-free-market legislation for state lawmakers around the country."
"At this point, we've decided that it's not the right environment to continue working with them," Gates Foundation spokesman Chris Williams told Reuters on Tuesday.
The split will take effect once the Gates Foundation pays the balance of a $376,000 education grant that it awarded to the conservative group last year, Williams said.
"While [we] were a member of ALEC in 2011, we evaluate all professional memberships annually and made the business decision not to renew in 2012," Ashlee Yingling, a McDonald's spokeswoman, wrote in an email. Yingling didn't mention any specific campaign or outside pressure as playing a role in the company's decision to leave ALEC.In an email to Huffington Post Yingling emphasized that the split was not a result of political pressure from activists.
"We’re trying to correct the misinformation. We were a member last year and made the business decision not to renew in 2012," McDonald's spokesperson Ashlee Yingling wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. "Unfortunately, information found on many websites is outdated."HuffPo notes, however, that in February McDonald's wrote to Color of Change stating that they were, at the time, a member of ALEC, but "while McDonald's is a member of ALEC's Commerce Committee, we are not a member of ALEC's Private Enterprise Board which recently passed the 'Voter ID' model legislation." (Unclear is why the "Private Enterprise Board" is writing legislation about voting and not about, you know, private enterprise.)
Kudos to the Gates Foundation for making clear that they don't want to be associated with ALEC's extreme agenda. McDonald's, well, at least they've decided to sever ties, whatever the real story behind that decision might be.