Woonsocket's CVS Pulls Support Of ALEC

Local company joins John Deere, MillerCoors, HP, and Best Buy in breaking ties with lawmaker-business partner group.


Woonsocket-based is one of five major corporations to recently end financial support for American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

ALEC is described by board member and Woonsocket Rep. Jon Brien (Dist. 50, Woonsocket), as a bipartisan group that puts lawmakers together with businesses to come up with ideas (ultimately, legislation) "That will foster a free-market society."

ALEC has received criticism from Common Cause, the New York Times reports, which attests the organization's practices amount to lobbying, violating its tax-exempt status.

ColorofChange.org, a political action group working "...to make government more responsive to the concerns of Black Americans," praised the companies' break with ALEC in a release posted to their website. ColorofChange.org has launched a campaign calling on companies to break with ALEC, claiming the group has helped draft laws that restrict access to the polls for blacks, Latinos, low-income voters and other marginalized groups. Specifically, they reference ALEC's model voter ID law. Though ALEC has since scrapped the task force that drafted the model legislation, it is attributed as the inspiration for many current voter ID laws across the US.

An opinion piece in the Washington Times defends ALEC against the claims.

Critics say the new voter ID laws, which require photo identification for voters, disenfranchise minority voters because it places an undue burden on their ability to vote. The Justice Department is challenging the Texas voter ID law, and US  Attorney General Eric Holder has labeled the law a poll tax, because it requires voters to travel long distances and pay to obtain documents.

A was sponsored by Brien, but the Providence Phoenix reports it was drafted by Secretary of State Ralph Mollis prior to ALEC's model legislation and left out an "onerous" provision requiring anyone trying to vote without ID to show up at the board of elections the following Monday with proof of identity.

"We want to thank these companies for making the right decision, and we continue to call on all major corporations to stop funding ALEC given its involvement in voter suppression and its work pushing policies designed to benefit rich and powerful corporations at the expense of people of color, workers, and the environment," said Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org.

"Over the last few weeks, we have closely followed the issues surrounding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and have heard from numerous stakeholders expressing their views," said Larry Burton, CVS Caremark Senior Vice President for Government Affairs, in an email to ColorOfChange.org printed in the release. "As a result, after careful consideration of the available information, CVS Caremark has discontinued its membership in ALEC."

ALEC has also .

On May 1, Sen. John J. Tassoni Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Smithfield) asked to have his name removed from the list of state legislators enrolled as members of ALEC. The Providence Journal reported that state Sen. Walter Felag also quit the group.

Brien has said the two legislators' departure from the RI chapter is the result of a misunderstanding of the organization and bullying tactics employed by the organization's critics. He could not be reached for comment on CVS's break with ALEC.

SDE July 12, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Bullying how about blackmail.
arbi July 13, 2012 at 08:04 AM
Good job Jon Brien. Wake up Woonsocket voters.
Memere July 13, 2012 at 10:59 AM
Actually I have no problem with having to show an ID to be allowed to vote. If you have nothing to hide, why should you object? It has long been the law that you need a license in order to be able to drive so why should having an ID be such a problem?
John July 13, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Memere, Think about all the young men and women in this city that do not have a license but would like the right to vote. When you go to the DMV to get an ID they make it almost impossible unless you have your own utility bills with your name on them. Most young men and women in this city that do not have a license cannot obtain an I.D. but yet we tell them they should pay attention and vote. A catch 22.
English first July 13, 2012 at 12:12 PM
DMV issues two types of ID cards. A regular ID card valid for six years, and a senior citizen ID card valid for 10 years. To qualify for a senior citizen ID card, you must be age 62 or older. To apply for an ID card you will need to do the following: Visit a DMV office (make an Appointment(s) for faster service) Complete application form DL 44 (An original DL 44 form must be submitted. Copies will not be accepted.) Give a thumb print Have your picture taken Provide your social security number. It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office. Verify your birth date and legal presence from DMV website. It is so easy to get information.


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