The fast food giant Yum! Brands has reversed its 2012 decision to stop funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and started paying annual dues to an association of right-wing attorneys general, according to its most recent voluntary financial disclosure.
Yum!, the parent company of popular fast food brands such as Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, disclosed 2022 contributions of $12,000 to ALEC and $15,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), both for putative advocacy work. The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) first reported the Yum! funding of RAGA in September 2022.
ALEC is a pay-to-play group that brings together corporate lobbyists and state lawmakers to vote as equals on model policies that advance corporate interests at the state level. ALEC’s model bills stymie unions, artificially distort markets to favor the fossil fuel and tobacco industries, exacerbate the climate crisis, and prevent access to abortion, among other things.
In conjunction with its affiliated nonprofits the Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF) and the Center for Law and Policy, RAGA runs a cash-for-influence operation that coordinates the official actions of Republican state attorneys general while selling corporate access to these politicians and their staff.
After CMD began to shed light on the inner workings of ALEC in 2011, public protests led a number of corporations to cut their ties with the organization. One of the corporations that agreed to leave ALEC was Yum!, which previously had representatives serving in leadership roles within the organization, including co-chairing the ALEC subcommittee task force that fought against paid sick leave.
Although Yum! has previously disclosed contributions to the Republican Governors Association and the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, 2022 is the first year that it disclosed donations to RAGA, according to filings from 2014–23 reviewed by CMD. RAGA’s most recent IRS filings also reveal that it received $15,400 from Yum! in 2023.
RAGA is primarily funded by right-wing, dark money operative Leonard Leo, and was one of the coalition members to push Trump supporters to turn out on Jan. 6 for the protests that precipitated the insurrection.
Yum! was included in the Investor’s Business Daily list of the 100 Best ESG Companies 2021, but did not make IBD’s 2022 list. This may be due to the company’s 2022 contributions to ALEC and RAGA, both of which have played central roles in promoting the Right’s manufactured crisis around woke capitalism and sustainable investing.
According to the company’s political contributions policy when it comes to advocacy groups, Yum! “does not always agree with every position adopted by these groups, and reviews its involvement with trade associations and other organizations on an ongoing basis.”
Yum! did not respond to CMD’s request for comment.