In recent weeks, Republic Report joined a coalition of other groups to demand that companies withdraw affiliation with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a front group that helps lobbyists pass pro-corporate legislation in states across the country. [See our letter to ALEC board members here]

Republic Report’s Suzanne Merkelson covered how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a charity set up by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, supports ALEC financially. Now, Roll Call is reporting that the Foundation is withdrawing support for ALEC:

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation today became the latest backer to withdraw financial support for the American Legislative Exchange Council. A foundation spokesman told Roll Call that it does not plan to make future grants to the conservative nonprofit, which has come under fire from progressive activists for its support of voter identification laws and other contentious measures.

Why did the foundation fund ALEC in the first place? It’s likely the group gave funds to ALEC as part of a larger effort by Microsoft-linked groups to promote K-12 virtual schools, a movement that is likely to benefit Microsoft as privatized charters adopt more technology in the classroom.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joins Kraft, Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Intuit Inc. in withdrawing from ALEC in recent weeks. Notably, some corporate interests, including the drug company lobby group PhRMA and Koch Industries, have refused to back away from ALEC.

We’re still waiting to hear from other ALEC-linked corporations. We recently visited the lobbying office of GlaxoSmithKline to make sure they received our letter.

ALEC has been around for years promoting laws that benefit large powerful corporate interests. State laws that promote prison privatization, criminalize municipal telecom competition, and outlaw hikes in the minimum wage have been linked to ALEC. The recent controversy was kicked off after it was revealed that the gun lobby worked closely with ALEC to promote the “Shoot First” law that will likely allow the killer of Trayvon Martin to avoid prosecution.

RELATED: Meet the ALEC staffers who help corporations write our laws.

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  • TRussert

    It’s surprising to me that they were members in the first place. Anyway, great job on showing them the wisdom of not being affiliated with ALEC. So, who’s next?

    • CatKinNY

      Johnson and Johnson are next, and like most plutocrats, Bill Gates hates unions.

      • Anon E Mous

        That’s right – corporatists hate unions! That’s why we should have Obama take over all corporations like Microsoft and Apple, instead of having these privatized in anti-union sweatshops. Maxine Waters wanted to socialize Big Oil – while companies like Apple are becoming Trillion Dollar companies! Make them pay Living Wages – everyone, including the lowest janitor, to make $100,000 a year! That ought to school ’em!

        • CatKinNY

          Do you really think it was in the long term interests of this country for Apple and Microsoft to offshore all the manufacturing jobs that used to pay 30 to 40K/yr so multibillionaires could become even wealthier? The usual ‘pro market’ zombie response to this question is that it allowed them to lower prices, thereby benefiting us all, except in the case of these two companies, everyone knows that’s simply untrue, though I’m sure Mitt Romney will be perfectly willing to lie about it. At some point, corporate ‘America’ (and I use that word facetiously, because these multinationals have no loyalty or concern for the country that educated their founders) and it’s cheerleaders will wake up and look around them at the smoldering ruins of what was once the middle class, but probably not before their sales fall off a cliff. Finally, the joke will be on them, for what’s obvious to those of us who read the news sections of real newspapers (but is apparently unknown in the business school set) is that all those ‘consumers’ in China and India will want clean water, adequate food and health care before they’ll want I Pods. That’ll learn ’em.

          • OH

            It is time for Americans to get tough on Conservatives

      • TRussert

        Goes to show, nobody is perfect. We all have to live with things that we don’t like regardless of how good they are for us.
        I’m sure Mr. Gates can handle it:)

        • CatKinNY

          Not sure what you meant, TRussert, but if you’re classifying Stand Your Ground laws, voter supression and union busting as things we have to put up with because they are ‘good for us’, you really should change your screen name, because your making Tim spin in his grave.

          • TRussert

            Wow! You sure do read into things beyond what’s written! You commented that Bill doesn’t like unions. That’s all I referred to; things some of us don’t like (unions) even when they (unions) are good for us. OK to remove the noose from my neck now? :)

          • CatKinNY

            Hi, TRussert, Sorry about that. I typed that, hit send, and then a bell went off in my head, so I opened up the link to the article and reread the comments, at which point I used the edit function to erase my reply, then hit ‘save edit’, so I don’t know what happened. Disqus strikes again. Bill Gates is using his money for some truly admirable things, unlike his old frenemy Steve Jobs, but he is actively trying to destroy teachers unions and get rid of the decent pensions for the ones now on the job. The first part could be genuinely misguided, but the second part is just one more fabulously successful individual saying to everyone else “I did fine on my own, and you should too, since part of your pension comes out of my tax dollars”. He would claim, no doubt, that he’s just trying to make the American work force competetive for the 21st century; I doubt he knows enough history to realize that he’s actually calling for a return to the 19th.

          • TRussert

            Not to worry CatKinNY! It’s only natural for those who run corporations to dislike unions. After all, unions cost them money. By the same token, unions are vital to protecting employee rights and interests, which few corporations will ever do above the absolute minimum. This is why so many jobs are outsourced. We just need a reasonable balance between the two. That however is an ongoing struggle for unions because of the special interest domination of Washington at every level, GOP and Democrats. Did you see that Obama caved again to the lobbyists about contractor campaign contribution disclosure?

          • CatKinNY

            TR: Yeah, sigh; I’m hoping that if he is reelected, he’ll make getting the money out of politics the focus of his second term, because it is the root cause of all that is wrong with this country. Before elections became so damned expensive, and we had some modest campaign finance rules in effect, special interests just weren’t very poweful in DC, and I’m more than old enough to remember when most politicians weren’t beholden to corporations or interest groups. We have become what Jefferson feared most: a congress owned by corporations that advocates for their interests, rather than those of the people. He called for constitutional conventions every 25 years or so; being a genius, he knew it wouldn’t be 1781 forever.

          • TRussert

            Hello CatKinNY,
            I too am that old! :). You are of course exactly right. Our government and legislation is dominated by the wishes of special interests. Deceiving the public is now the GOP’s national sport per their “think tanks” and corporate masters. The Democrats are no better and serve only as a diversion to further mislead you and I and everyone else. We’re supposed to “believe” they will serve our best interests. Ha! This is why neither party will ever do anything to change the lobby/campaign financing agenda. The ONLY way this will happen is if the majority demands it and incumbents start getting voted out of office. THAT will only happen if the majority knows whats going on and is motivated enough to show up at the voting booth, and the odds are against that historically. Most people just don’t seem to care enough to actually DO something to effect change. That’s the REAL problem with our government and politics; we allow all this crap to happen by being complacent and ignorant, in which case we deserve what we get. Maybe this year will be different? I’m hoping. Cheers..

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  • Bill49259

    Bill and Melinda are fine people that are helping the world become a better place. I am really happy that they are no longer funding ALEC. I wish Bill and Melinda nothing but the best and God’s blessing to you both. I would like to thank them for all the good that they do.

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  • CatKinNY

    They will not be withdrawing support for ALEC for another 17 months, unlike Coke, Pepsi, Kraft, McDonalds and many others. Please contact the Gates Foundation and let them know that you cannot support them until they withdraw from an organization that sponsors Stand Your Ground laws, voter suppresssion and union busting.

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  • Pam Miner

    Like the others who have withdrawn support for this awful ALEC, Gates seems to know right from wrong. But why are they not withdrawing for 17 months? Time for a petition to have them withdraw right now.
    ALEC seems to be a collection of the 1%, for the 1% and by the 1%.
    These types consider us work units. Or worse. THey think we are all disposible and that is scary. Romney is all for the 1% too. He scares me. He would be a terrible president, strip out all safety nets that we now have but didn’t before in the great depression. THere will be a petition at or can be created at

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