Friday, April 06, 2012

Coca-Cola Co is dropping its membership in a conservative national advocacy groups after blacks complained regarding Trayvon Martin shooting


ORLANDO, Fla./NEW YORK (Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co is dropping its membership in a conservative national advocacy group that supports "Stand Your Ground" laws such as the one being used as a defense in the Florida killing of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin.

The move by the world's biggest soft drink maker comes as corporate America faces increased scrutiny from consumers and shareholder activists over lobbying and political spending.

PepsiCo Inc ended its relationship with the group - the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) - in January.

In a statement on Thursday, Coca-Cola made no direct mention of the controversial self-defense law pushed by ALEC that provides shooters with wide latitude for claiming self defense when they perceive a threat.

"The Coca-Cola Company has elected to discontinue its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)," the statement said.

"Our involvement with ALEC was focused on efforts to oppose discriminatory food and beverage taxes, not on issues that have no direct bearing on our business. We have a long-standing policy of only taking positions on issues that impact our company and industry."

Trayvon Martin, 17, was killed on February 26 in Sanford, Florida, by George Zimmerman, 28, a white and Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer who has claimed he acted in self defense and has not been charged with a crime.

At a rally in Sanford on Saturday, civil rights leaders said they were considering economic boycotts of national companies that support "Stand Your Ground" laws.

Coca-Cola and other ALEC member companies were targeted last year by the civil rights group ColorOfChange for their support of ALEC, which is also behind what ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson calls "voter suppression laws" in many states. The laws require voters to show identification.

Since Martin's killing, Robinson said ColorOfChange has let the corporations know that ALEC was behind a push for states to adopt legislation modeled after Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.

Robinson declined to name which other companies the group is pursuing, saying their strategy is to give corporations a chance to withdraw from ALEC before escalating the issue publicly.


ALEC's private enterprise board includes executives from companies including Pfizer Inc and Reynolds American, which stood by the group on Thursday along with Procter & Gamble Co, a member company.

"We don't agree with every ALEC position, but we participate in ALEC's healthcare forums because state legislators that are the members in ALEC, they make decisions that impact our business and the country's business every day," said Peter O'Toole, a spokesman for the world's largest drugmaker.

Pfizer reviews its membership in outside organizations regularly, he said.

Reynolds, the maker of Camel cigarettes, said ALEC provides "a valuable forum for sharing of ideas and fostering better understanding of a broad range of both legislative and business issues."

Cigarette-maker Altria Group, which has an employee on the ALEC board, said its involvement is focused on business-related issues.

Exxon Mobil Corp declined to comment as did Diageo Plc, which makes Johnnie Walker whisky and Smirnoff vodka.

Late on Thursday, Kraft Foods Inc said in an emailed statement: "We belong to many external groups, including ALEC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes growth and fiscal responsibility.

"ALEC covers numerous issues but our involvement has been strictly limited to discussions about economic growth and development, transportation and tax policy. We did not participate in meetings or conversations related to other issues.

"Our membership in ALEC expires this spring and for a number of reasons, including limited resources, we have made the decision not to renew."

Companies that were not immediately available for comment included Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, United Parcel Service Inc, among others.(

Bruce Freed, president of the Center for Political Accountability in Washington, said he was not surprised that Pepsi and Coke were ahead of the pack in distancing themselves from ALEC, because they could be more vulnerable to a consumer boycott than other companies.

"Companies recognize that political spending poses a risk," said Freed, whose group is also pressing companies to rein in their spending.

ALEC, which describes its mission as to advance the principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, said it would welcome back Coke if it ever had a change of heart.

"We definitely respect differences of opinion and ideas and whatever people want to do...," said Kaitlyn Buss, spokeswoman for ALEC.

ALEC develops model bills, but one of the group's insiders said it does not actively lobby.

"The legislators often have an idea, a concept or a thought and they go to ALEC to implement that thought," said Victor Schwartz, a Washington lawyer and lobbyist who serves as co-chairman of the ALEC task force on civil justice. He was not speaking as an ALEC spokesman.

The investment firm Walden Asset Management in Boston gave a tally of a dozen large companies earlier this week that recently agreed to make new disclosures around their lobbying efforts, including: Coke, General Electric Co and Johnson & Johnson.

In a letter to ColorOfChange dated January 25, 2012, PepsiCo told Robinson the company had decided to drop its decade-long membership in ALEC after its membership expired.

"We review all organizations in which we have membership each year to assure they serve a critical purpose for PepsiCo and its priorities," Paul Boykas, vice president of public policy and government affairs said in the letter.

Robinson said Coca-Cola made its decision on Wednesday after ColorOfChange posted a Web page criticizing Coca-Cola's continued support of ALEC. Robinson said the Web page was up for eight hours before ColorOfChange removed it based on Coca-Cola's change of heart.


Anonymous said...

Love my jack and coke buts its only a memory sense coke hired dick head daley.

Anonymous said...

Soda is BAD for you!! Drink water!

Anonymous said...

Rum and RC cola?

Anonymous said...

No more coke or pepsi for me. It was not healthy anyway.

Anonymous said...

Everytime you drink a soda its like eating a candy bar just makes you fat.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip Detective Shavedlongcock. Won't buy their shit anymore, even though it's only the rare summer drink for me. Happy Easter!

Anonymous said...

Why would Blacks be against such a group?? Does it stand to assume that most people using a firearm to prevent themselves from great bodily harm would probably (according to crime statistics) be defending themselves from a black individual? Interesting reverse self defense tactic. If victims are unarmed, then more blacks will live?

I Voted For Obama said...

Coca-Cola will also make a huge donation to the Committee to Re-elect Obama to make up for their lack of sensitivety.

Anonymous said...

Coca Cola is bad for you. It rots your teeth and is pure non-nutritional calories.

Drink anything else instead. Weenign yourself off sugar will lead to a longer healthier life.

Long live big brother? said...


Chebourger Chebourger Chebourger!

Anonymous said...

Chief hillbilly wa;rus whale ass sucks cock.

Commander mummmbles is living proof you can be a complete moron and get promoted.

Commander Mummmbles is a ball licking incompetent coward.
Hey Mo Hey Mo doing the curly shuffle.

If it's raining we aint going in, na mo

Anonymous said...

Coke will GIVE Jesse Jackson a COKE Franchise and all will be well!

Anonymous said...

Coke will GIVE Jesse Jackson a COKE Franchise and all will be well!

Anonymous said...

DONE. Will NEVER buy another Coke product. Will Suffer with pepsi.

Anonymous said...

Ha....ha.....ha...., I thought all whites drank coke, while doing hillbilly handfishing, incest and other obscene acts. Geesh time sure does fly, back to the trailer park I go!

Anonymous said...

Nigger apologists!!

Anonymous said...

Grape drank for me homie.

Leroy Frisbeelip

Anonymous said...

I will change to another product in the restaurant and when people ask why, I will gladly tell them about this. Shame on them! I will tell over 500 - people a week about this and encourage them to boycott their product.

Anonymous said...

No more buying Coke for me. I just stick with Heron now.

Anonymous said...

I never drank that poison anyway. High Fructose Corn Syrup is toxic and unhealthy in many ways.

Just leave it for the blacks. So many of them (sadly in this case. No jokes on this issue due to race) are afflicted with diabetes and obesity and other maladies which are diet related.

The 'sugars' as the blacks nicknamed diabetes is very wide spread among blacks. As it Vitamin D deficiency. I will make a nigger joke freely here and there; the nutrition based health issues facing blacks is not a joking matter.

I think the blacks should protest Coke for the effects on the human body, those bodies of black kids namely, Coke's products have. Not over the whole Stand Your Ground issue. Oh Jessieand Al... You screw your own people yet again. TNB...