After more than 50 other corporate funders publicly dropped ALEC for its work pushing discriminatory voter ID and deadly Shoot First laws, Yelp! actually joined ALEC — and paid extra to become a member of ALEC's Civil Justice Task Force — on June 28 of this year. Yes, Yelp! thought it would be a good business decision to give at least $10,000 to ALEC during the opening week of George Zimmerman's murder trial in Florida.
As Yelp's executives are well aware, it's thanks to ALEC that Florida's profit-driven Shoot First law, directly authored by the NRA, today endangers millions of people living in 26 states across the country. And it's thanks to Shoot First that Zimmerman was not only acquitted of all criminal charges for his confessed killing of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin, but will likely be immune to any civil lawsuit for causing Trayvon's wrongful death.
Shoot First's legal presumption that subjective, racist fears are justifiable grounds for vigilante homicide has served to paint a target on the backs of Black youth in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict.
ALEC has eight years of data on Shoot First's racially-biased outcomes, but of course isn't interested in repealing these laws anywhere they're on the books. Instead, ALEC legislators are continuing to introduce new ones! Ten Shoot First bills have been introduced so far in 2013, and two have passed. (This is in addition to 52 bills to enact or tighten voter ID restrictions, of which five have passed.)
We've tried to let Yelp! know the damage they're doing to their business' reputation and the continuing harm their financial support of ALEC is causing our communities; our private communications have been met with silence, and Yelp! has "filtered" (hidden) thousands of reviews published on its own site challenging the company's decision. Yet Yelp!'s Director of Public Policy, Luther Lowe, has admitted publicly that he "can't ignore" the damage ALEC has done.
If you want to make sure Yelp! gets the message and does the right thing, submit your own "review" of Yelp!'s decision to start funding ALEC using this page, and we'll send it directly to Yelp! CEO Jeremy Stoppelman.Was this review...?
Confusing ALEC's corporate bill laundry, which gives corporations an equal vote with elected legislators on "model" legislation often written by those same corporate members — eroding our democracy and violating federal and state lobbying laws in the process — with a legitimate means of informing public policy and debate.
Established in 2004, joined ALEC in 2013
After learning of the American Legislative Exchange Council's central role in ensuring that Black youth across America live in fear of being targeted by unaccountable vigilantes like George Zimmerman who know not to leave any witnesses, Russ and Jeremy separately struggled to figure out what this had to do with them. They couldn't understand how in the Internet age word-of-mouth recommendations about what businesses to support could possibly impact their decision to give ALEC $10,000 in fungible funds that furthers all aspects of the ALEC legislative agenda. So after putting their heads together they decided it would be totally worth it to become a part of ALEC's explicit pay-to-play legislation pipeline that ensures that extreme profit-driven legislation that exploits and endangers our communities will continue to result.
Jeremy has been playing on the Interweb for years, before Yelp! he was an early employee at PayPal. He holds a computer engineering degree from UIUC and half of an MBA from Harvard (drop out!). Presumably has some respect for the experience and perspectives of Yelp! users — who are disproportionately young people of color of the Trayvon Martin generation — on whose experience and perspectives (aka unpaid writing) he was able to build his business.