A campaign launched by several progressive organizations has led eight major corporations to withdraw from the American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, where state legislators and business representatives meet to draft model legislation.

ALEC has been accused by progressive organizations of working “to disenfranchise African Americans, Latinos, students, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor.”

The Center for Media and Democracy writes that “candy-maker Mars and the Arizona Public Service Company (APS), Arizona’s largest electric utility,” announced “they cut ties with” ALEC. Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo and Intuit have also withdrawn from ALEC.

“Mars had been an exhibitor at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting in New Orleans. Mars is the maker of Skittles, the snack Trayvon Martin had purchased before he was shot by George Zimmerman, whose arrest was delayed due to an NRA-backed gun law that became an ALEC ‘model’ bill,” the Center for Media and Democracy adds.

Martin’s death brought attention to Florida’s GOP-sponsored “Stand Your Ground” law, which states that “a person is justified in the use of deadly force” if “he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”

State Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, announced last week he has formed a task force to review the now-controversial law. Smith also announced that his FloridaStandYourGround.org ”went live to allow Floridians and people throughout the country to immediately begin weighing in with their experiences, thoughts and suggestions.”

In response to the anti-ALEC campaign, Ron Scheberle, the organization’s executive director issued the following statement: “Over the last 24 hours, ALEC has been inundated with letters of support from elected officials, community leaders and concerned citizens in response to the intimidation campaign launched by a coalition of extreme liberal activists committed to silencing anyone who disagrees with their agenda.”

Scheberle’s statement adds that “ALEC is one of America’s premier ideas laboratories when it comes to advocating free market reforms.”

ALEC wrote a model “Parent Trigger bill,” which includes language promoting turnaround models that would convert failing public schools into privately managed charter schools. Florida’s version of the “Parent Trigger,” filed by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, was defeated in the Florida Senate during the 2012 legislative session.

According to the Center for Media and Democracy, ALEC has at least one elected official from every state who serves as a “state chairman” and whose “duties shall include recruiting new members, working to ensure introduction of model legislation, suggesting task force membership, establishing state steering committees, planning issue events, and working with the Private Enterprise State Chairman to raise and oversee expenditures of legislative ’scholarship’ funds.” Florida’s state chairman is state Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that ALEC “also receives support from organizations linked to billionaires David and Charles Koch, libertarians who have fought environmental and other government regulations,” and: “Industry lobbyists said in interviews that ALEC provides access to legislators at the state level, where many regulatory battles are fought.”

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