A campaign launched by several progressive organizations has led five major corporations to withdraw from the American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, which has been accused by progressive organizations of working “to disenfranchise African Americans, Latinos, students, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor.”

A press release issued by Common Cause confirms that “Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo and Intuit confirmed last week that they’ve already withdrawn from ALEC. On Monday, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that they will no longer be making grants to ALEC.”

“Color of Change, Common Cause,  People for the American Way, Progress Now, the Center for Media and Democracy, and CREDO said their members will be petitioning State Farm Insurance and Johnson & Johnson, both of which play a prominent leadership role in ALEC, to leave the organization immediately,” Common Cause adds.

The Center for Media and Democracy announced Tuesday that “McDonald’s is the fifth major corporation in a week to withdraw from ALEC.” The Coca-Cola Company announced last week it is withdrawing from ALEC.

Center for Media and Democracy data show that in 2011, the list of  ALEC’s corporate board included AT&T, Bayer Corporation, Glaxo Smith Kline, Koch Companies Public Sector and Walmart.

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.”

Of the 75 state representatives and senators who served as state chairmen, only one member was a Democrat. Florida’s chairman is state Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City.

Open Secrets, which investigates money in politics, calls ALEC an “ideologically conservative consortium of state legislators and business interests known to draft model legislation for state lawmakers across the country.” According to Open Secrets, ALEC’s 23 corporate board members have spent at least $400 million on lobbying expenditures from 2009 through 2011.

“Much of these companies’ lobbying efforts have targeted the health care reform law signed by President Barack Obama last year, as well as environmental measures, such as bills that would block the [Environmental Protection Agency] from regulating greenhouse gases,” adds Open Secrets.

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