* Model-legislation outfit to focus on the economy
* Shift in priorities follows Trayvon Martin death
* ColorOfChange says decision is not enough
By David Ingram
WASHINGTON, April 17 A conservative group under
pressure for spreading "stand your ground" self-defense laws in
the United States said on Tuesday it is abandoning that part of
its work to focus on the economy.
The decision by the American Legislative Exchange Council
(ALEC) came after a months-long public lobbying campaign that
successfully persuaded large U.S. corporations, including the
Coca-Cola Co, Kraft Foods Inc and PepsiCo Inc
, to cut ties to the organization.
A coalition of liberal advocates targeted ALEC for its
support of the self-defense laws, one of which is at the center
of the Florida shooting that killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon
Martin in February.
ALEC, which serves as a forum for corporations, mostly
Republican state lawmakers and lobbyists to discuss model
legislation, drew additional scrutiny in the past six months for
promotion of laws that require photo identification to vote.
ColorOfChange, a liberal advocacy group for black Americans,
said the voting laws disadvantage the poor and minorities.
ALEC will disband its committee that works on "public safety
and elections," the group said in a news release, in order to
focus on legislation that would spur economic growth, which is
"why ALEC exists."
The group said it still recognizes the importance of
non-economic issues, but "we must concentrate on initiatives
that spur competitiveness and innovation and put more Americans
back to work."
ColorOfChange, which led the public campaign to get
companies to quit ALEC, said today that the group's decision
does not go far enough because stand-your-ground laws have been
adopted in more than 20 states, and voter-ID laws are also
widely in place.
Corporate members should hold ALEC "accountable for the
damage it has caused nationwide," said Rashad Robinson,
ColorOfChange's executive director.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has also cut ties to
ALEC in recent weeks.
Other members, such as Reynolds American Inc, stood
by their work with ALEC, saying they had nothing to do with
self-defense or election laws and were members so they could
pursue legislation related to their businesses.