Ford Motor Company confirmed to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that it is cutting ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that has drawn heavy criticism for promoting climate change denial and for opposing the development of renewable energy sources.
"As part of our annual budget review, we have adjusted our participation in several groups. We will not be participating in ALEC in 2016," wrote Christin Baker, a Ford spokesperson in an email to CMD.
Its products might be "Ford Tough," but in making the decision to stop funding ALEC, Ford executives are responding to consumer concern over its membership in the controversial, Koch-funded ALEC, which has both an extreme anti-worker agenda as well as an anti-environmental agenda.
The departure makes Ford the 108th identified company to cut ties with ALEC in recent years.
ALEC Keeps Getting Dumped Over Climate Denial
One of the largest auto makers in the world, with many union plants in North America, Ford has tried to present itself as as a leader on worker relations, climate change and fuel efficiency.
Ford touts itself as "forward-thinking" and "environmentally responsible," and advocates "science-based" strategies for addressing climate change. Ford also participates in the United Nations Global Compact, which requires corporations to address key principles such as human rights, labor standards, and the environment.
Ford claims that the company "is committed to doing our share to prevent or reduce the potential for environmental, economic and social harm due to climate change."
CMD first reported on Ford's funding of ALEC in November 2015 at a time when other companies were fleeing ALEC. Google announced it was leaving ALEC in September 2014, calling its membership a "mistake." Chairman Eric Schmidt told NPR's Diane Rehm that ALEC climate deniers were "making the world a much worse place… they're just literally lying." The departure of Google led to a corporate exodus and the Koch-ALEC war on renewable energy has generated a great deal of public attention, most recently with an expose in Rolling Stone.
The Koch-ALEC role in promoting controversial anti-union legislation, like "right to work" passed in Michigan, Wisconsin and West Virginia, may have also caused concern for the union firm.
Since CMD launched the ALEC Exposed investigation in 2011, 108 corporations and 19 non-profits have left ALEC, including BP, Shell, Visa, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, McDonald's, and Google (now Alphabet). In 2015, CMD/PRWatch co-launched a website that documents the teaching of climate change denial to legislators at ALEC conferences: ALECClimateChangeDenial.org.
Jessica Mason contributed to this article.