ADVERTISEMENT
The move was championed by various progressive groups that had questioned ALEC's lobbying on behalf of social issue bills.

“The American public has wised up to ALEC’s misguided and secretive attempts to co-opt state legislators for corporate profit,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar in a statement. “In folding its Public Safety and Elections Task Force, ALEC is abandoning under pressure the most controversial part of its agenda; that’s an important victory for the American public.”

The organization -- funded by major corporations and comprised of thousands of state legislators -- writes draft legislation that states can adopt. Oftentimes, that leads to similar bills based on the same model legislation -- like the handful of voter identification laws recently adopted across the country.

ALEC said there would be an internal shake-up to refocus a "commitment to free-market, limited government and pro-growth principles."

“We are eliminating the ALEC Public Safety and Elections task force that dealt with non-economic issues, and reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy. The remaining budgetary and economic issues will be reassigned," Frizzell said. “While we recognize there are other critical, non-economic issues that are vitally important to millions of Americans, we believe we must concentrate on initiatives that spur competitiveness and innovation and put more Americans back to work."

Still, the group is likely to retain the ire of progressive groups opposed to its fiscally conservative agenda. It's also not clear if the ten major corporations who abandoned membership in the group during protests last week would rejoin, and what affect their departure could have on the organization's long-term viability.

"ALEC's latest statement is nothing more than a PR stunt aimed at diverting attention from its agenda, which has done serious damage to our communities. To simply say they are stopping non-economic work doesn't guarantee that ALEC will not continue to push laws that endanger African Americans and trample our voting rights," said ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson in a statement.

The NAACP applauded companies who had pulled out of the group and vowed to continue monitioring ALEC's lobbying activities.

“We are encouraged that the nationwide campaign by civil rights advocates has forced ALEC to rethink its voter suppression and criminal protection work, but we know that for so many Americans, the damage has already been done,” said NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous. “This year, because of ALEC, millions of voters who had been eligible to vote in 2008 will be denied access to the ballot box. We may never know how many families will be denied justice because of the ‘stand your ground’ laws that continue to put communities in danger, or how many families will be torn apart under repressive anti-immigrant laws.”