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Google, Yahoo Leave ALEC Amid Liberal Pressure Campaign

Facebook likely to leave

• September 25, 2014 4:00 pm

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Tech giants Google and Yahoo renounced their membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) this week under pressure from progressive activists.

Earlier this month, the Sierra Club, several major unions, and 50 other groups demanded that Google end its membership in ALEC, a free-market network of businesses and state lawmakers that crafts model legislation. The groups cited ALEC’s "extreme agenda," including "denying climate change" and opposing net neutrality.

Groups also put pressure on tech companies such as Facebook and eBay to withdraw their membership.

"The consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake," Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said of the decision to join the group in a Monday interview with NPR.

"Everyone understands climate change is occurring, and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place," Schmidt continued. "And so we should not be aligned with such people—they're just, they're just literally lying."

Facebook also announced Wednesday that it was unlikely to renew its membership with the organization.

"We reevaluate our memberships on an annual basis, and are in that process now," the company said in a statement to the Guardian. "While we have tried to work within ALEC to bring that organization closer to our view on some key issues, it seems unlikely that we will make sufficient progress so we are not likely to renew our membership in 2015."

Late Wednesday, Yahoo announced to Common Cause, one of the liberal organizations leading the anti-ALEC campaign, that it was dropping its membership in the group.

"We’ve decided to discontinue our membership in ALEC," the company said in a statement. "We periodically review our membership in organizations and, at this time, we will no longer participate in the ALEC Task Force on Communications and Technology."

ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson said in a statement following the companies’ departures that the complaints against ALEC misrepresent its stance.

"It is unfortunate to learn Google has ended its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council as a result of public pressure from left-leaning individuals and organizations who intentionally confuse free market policy perspectives for climate change denial," Nelson said in a statement.

"In the case of energy generation, ALEC believes renewable energy should expand based on consumer demand, not as a result of a government mandate," Nelson continued. "Many misunderstand the American Legislative Exchange Council and its legislator-led, free market priorities. ALEC members believe the Federal Government exerts too much control on state and local decision-making. Google’s renewable energy commitment—as well as those found throughout private industry—is completely consistent with ALEC policy because the companies in question chose renewables absent a mandate."

Activists, including some within Google itself, had also protested the company hosting a fundraiser for Sen. Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.).

Microsoft also withdrew its membership from ALEC last month.

Liberal activist groups have been coordinating a public pressure campaign for the past several years to dismantle the ALEC network by targeting its corporate sponsors.

Published under: Facebook, Google, Yahoo