John Deere Executives Face Backlash for Helping to Brand Conservatives as Racist

International Farming Giant Criticized for Kowtowing to Tiny Leftist Pressure Group

Shareholder Activist to Ask “What’s Next?”

Moline, IL / Washington, D.C. – Today at the annual meeting of John Deere shareholders in Moline, Illinois, a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research plans to ask Deere CEO Samuel Allen why his company caved in to a tiny left-wing pressure group when the leftists demanded that Deere stop working with a respected, 40-year-old national organization of conservative state legislators.

Deere caved in to Color of Change after Color of Change demanded Deere stop working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) because ALEC, like more than 70 percent of the American people, supported voter ID.

John Deere had been working with ALEC’s Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force when Deere Senior Vice President and General Counsel James R. Jenkins sent a letter to Color of Change announcing Deere was leaving ALEC.

“Color of Change is a tiny organization co-founded by ‘9/11 truther’ and admitted communist Van Jones. It operates as a race bully for the organized left as they collect online petitions and threaten to run commercials in black community media against targeted corporations,” said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. “John Deere is a Fortune 500 company. It is incomprehensible that this multinational corporation would capitulate to a tiny group that trades on race and accepts donations through a retail mailbox store in Oakland, California.”

Color of Change primarily objected to ALEC’s work on state-level voter ID measures aimed at curbing voter fraud, and falsely and maliciously claimed these safeguards are racist to target businesses that fund ALEC. The Color of Change website charged that “These companies have helped pass discriminatory voter ID legislation by funding a right wing policy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC’s voter ID laws are undemocratic, unjust and part of a longstanding right wing agenda to weaken the Black vote.” Using this racial rhetoric, Color of Change managed to intimidate John Deere and many other corporations into dropping their ALEC memberships, despite the fact that the racism charge is ludicrous.

“The U.S. Supreme Court declared that state-level voter ID laws are constitutional in 2008, and a majority of Americans support such laws,” said Danhof. “In fact, a comprehensive Washington Post poll found that 74 percent of Americans support voter ID laws – including a majority of Republicans, Democrats, independents, Hispanics and African Americans. It appears Color of Change’s true agenda is to demonize free-market advocates and defund their causes. In vociferously opposing voter identification laws, they have themselves become enablers of voter fraud just like the Brennan Center for Justice and the NAACP,” said Danhof.

In response to John Deere and others dropping their memberships, ALEC stopped working on voter ID measures, but the National Center for Public Policy Research announced a Voter Identification Task Force in part to pick up the slack.

National Center Chairman Amy Ridenour explained at the time: “Corporate CEOs who cower in the face of liberal boycott threats need to understand that the left never gives up… If these corporations do not reverse course and immediately grow enough of a backbone to say no when the left tells them what to do, conservatives may as well consider them part of the organized left. It doesn’t matter if corporate executives have free-market sentiments hidden deep inside them if they continually surrender to the left’s Trotskyite strategy of making relentless demand after demand in public.”

In less than a year, the National Center has become a leading national voice for common-sense voter integrity laws. In fact, today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a pivotal voting rights case on the same day as the John Deere shareholder meeting. The National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network submitted an amicus curiae brief that asks the Court to treat all states and localities fairly and equally under the Voting Rights Act.

“In the end, John Deere’s true sin was not just dropping support for ALEC, but in lending corporate clout to race-hustlers and helping them to further demonize those who want to protect law-abiding citizens of all races from having their votes stolen. I hope that Deere’s leadership will see the error of its ways and rejoin ALEC, because – even though it no longer works on voter integrity – ALEC’s work toward free-market reforms is still badly needed in these times of burdensome government regulations and increased taxes.”

A copy of Justin Danhof’s question at the shareholder meeting, as prepared for delivery, can be found here:

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a John Deere shareholder.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than 4% from foundations, and less than 2% from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors and operates within a building it owns near the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C., not a retail store mail drop.

Contributions to The National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.


The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.