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Best Buy ends support of policy group

  • Article by: JIM SPENCER
  • Star Tribune
  • July 10, 2012 - 8:34 PM

Best Buy Co. will no longer continue its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a public policy group.

The nation's largest consumer electronics retailer confirmed that it would not renew its membership this year with the ALEC, which has worked with state lawmakers to pass pro-gun ownership and voter-identification laws.

The group garnered public criticism for its support of Florida's so-called "stand your ground" gun rights law in the wake of the shooting of a black teenager, Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman has been charged in the case, which has raised questions about racial profiling.

Colorofchange.org, a civil rights group based in New York, announced Tuesday that Best Buy was among five companies that were withdrawing financial support of the group. The others are Deere & Co., CVS Caremark Corp., SABMiller and Hewlett-Packard Co. ColorofChange has led efforts to pressure corporations to withdraw from the ALEC.

Best Buy's membership with the group lapsed as of May. Best Buy spokeswoman Susan Busch said the company decided to quit ALEC based on a review of how well ALEC was meeting "the current needs of our business." Busch noted the company only participated with two of the group's task forces -- tax and fiscal policy and communications and technology.

"We constantly review our memberships in organizations to make sure they meet our needs," she said in an interview.

Other companies that have parted ways with ALEC recently include Minnesota-based Medtronic and Scantron.

An ALEC spokeswoman challenged the notion of a link between corporate defections and ALEC's pro-gun stance.

"ALEC is a voluntary membership organization and like any membership organization, numbers will ebb and flow," spokeswoman Kaitlyn Buss said in a statement. "The fact is, ALEC membership has been up over the last year by 20 percent. Many of the 'victories' our opponents are claiming are actually the result of financial realities and other internal considerations. And many of the decisions were made months ago."

Jim Spencer • 202-383-6123

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