People walk past a Wal-Mart sign in Rogers, Arkansas
People walk past a Wal-Mart sign in Rogers, Arkansas REUTERS

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the No. 1 U.S. retailer, said Thursday it had quit the American Legislative Exchange Council, a Washington, D.C.-based group that lobbies for conservative laws in state legislatures.

Wal-Mart, of Bentonville, Ark., was the 22nd company to leave ALEC, which was targeted by liberal groups after the Feb. 26 death of Trayvon Martin,17, in Sanford, Fla. Subsequently, George Zimmerman, 28, was charged with second-degree murder but has invoked Florida's Stand Your Ground law in his defense.

ALEC successfully lobbied for that law in Florida and many other states.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee coordinated efforts to get companies to quit ALEC. Others that previously opted out include Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), the world's most valuable technology company; Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), the No. 1 consumer products maker and Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), the biggest drinks maker.

ALEC, which had a $7 million annual budget before the campaign began, had no comment. Its chairman is Dave Frizzell, a Republican member of the Indiana House of Representatives. Its board of scholars includes Arthur B. Laffer, the economist who created the Laffer Curve beloved by President Ronald Reagan, as well as Stephen Moore, former president of the Club for Growth, now an editorial board member of the Wall Street Journal, published by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (NYSE: NWS).

Wal-Mart shares closed at $65.82, up 38 cents, a 52-week high, in Thursday trading.