Under pressure from a progressive campaign to abandon the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), McDonald's is insisting that it left the controversial conservative organization in March.
On Tuesday, the online advocacy group Color of Change called on the fast-food chain to withdraw its membership from the group due to its support for voter ID and "Stand Your Ground" gun laws. In response, McDonald's said that it had already done so.
"We’re trying to correct the misinformation. We were a member last year and made the business decision not to renew in 2012," McDonald's spokesperson Ashlee Yingling wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. "Unfortunately, information found on many websites is outdated."
However, a letter sent by McDonald's to Color of Change, dated February 29, 2012, defended the corporation's membership in the group.
"McDonald's is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)," it reads. "It is important to note that while McDonald's is a member of ALEC's Commerce Committee, we are not a member of ALEC's Private Enterprise Board which recently passed the "Voter ID" model legislation."
In response to HuffPost's request for clarification, Yingling said that the company’s decision to separate from ALEC was in fact made in March 2012.
Color of Change has led a public campaign that aims to get ALEC's members to withdraw. The group supports controversial "policies that limit voting rights, undermine our public schools, assault collective bargaining and weaken laws protecting our environment,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, a progressive group also involved in the campaign.
Coca-Cola withdrew its membership April 5. A day later Kraft Foods Inc announced it would not renew its membership to ALEC when it expires this spring.
Campaigns to persuade corporations to end support for the conservative organization had foundered until the Trayvon Martin killing. George Zimmerman, the man who shot the 17-year-old boy, has not been charged yet because of Florida's "Stand Your Ground Law," which ALEC championed. For much of corporate America, apparently, that's a bridge too far.
Color of Change's press release that named McDonald's as an ALEC member also called out State Farm and Johnson & Johnson for their memberships. State Farm and Johnson & Johnson did not respond to The Huffington Post's requests for comment.
As of Thursday, HuffPost had confirmed that Pfizer, Bayer, American Bail Coalition, PhRMA and Reynolds American would all continue their memberships in ALEC.
This article was updated to reflect that McDonald's left ALEC at the end of March. An earlier version erroneously reported that Color of Change had called for a boycott of Coca-Cola products. The error has been corrected.