Corporations Give Extra Than $ 50 Million to Voting Restriction Supporters – WISH-TV | Indianapolis Information | Indiana climate

WASHINGTON (AP) – When executives from Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines spoke out against Georgia’s new electoral law as being unreasonably restrictive last week, it appeared to be a sign of new activism stemming from American corporations.

But if the leaders of the country’s best-known corporations reject legislators who support restrictive voting, they must abruptly reverse course.

According to a new report by Citizen, a., lawmakers across the country, pushing for new electoral restrictions and also addressing former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of electoral fraud, have given corporate donations of more than 50 million in recent years US dollars received Washington-based government monitoring group.

Telecommunications giant AT&T has been the most prolific, donating over $ 800,000 since 2015 to authors of proposed restrictions, sponsors of such measures, or those who voted for the bills. Other top donors over the same period include Comcast, Philip Morris, United Health, Walmart, Verizon, General Motors, and Pfizer.

The money may not have been spent with electoral laws in mind, but it nonetheless helped cement Republican control in state , where many of the banned measures are now advancing.

Whether or not companies continue to give these lawmakers something will examine the willingness of risky business leaders to step down in their increasingly fierce criticism of the restrictive efforts that constituencies have condemned as an attack on democracy.

“It really is the American corporation as a whole that is funding these politicians,” said Mike Tanglis, one of the report’s authors. “It seems that many are trying to hide under a rock in the hope that this problem will be solved.”

More than 120 companies previously listed on the report said they would reconsider their donations to members of Congress for the same reasons as state lawmakers opposed confirming President Joe Biden’s victory after Trump’s deadly attack on the US – Capitol protested supporters.

The tension is now most felt in Georgia, where a sweeping new electoral law has undergone intense national scrutiny, fueling criticism from Delta and Coca-Cola. On Friday, MLB announced that it would no longer host the 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta.

However, it is unclear whether this aggressive new stance extends to corporate campaign fundraising practices. And leading indicators show that there is a risk.

The Republican-controlled in Georgia voted to withdraw a tens of millions of dollars a year tax break from Delta for criticizing the new bill, though the action was called into question after the GOP Senate adjourned it had not started the legislative period.

What is certain, however, is that withholding corporate donations to candidates at the state level, as many federal companies have done, would have a far greater impact on state houses.

“A $ 5,000 contribution to a US Senator who raises $ 30 million is a drop in the ocean. But some of these state races can cost a few thousand dollars a lot of advertising time, ”Tanglis said. “If the American corporation is saying that (Trump’s) lie is unacceptable at the federal level, what about the state level?”

Public Citizen analyzed about 245 voting bills proposed before March 1. They selected a list of sponsors and co-sponsors and at the same time analyzed voting by name. It then referred to the 2015 state donation record data, which included money from company-sponsored political action committees as well as direct contributions from company coffers.

Among their findings:

– Companies donated at least $ 50 million to lawmakers who supported election restrictions, including $ 22 million in the 2020 campaign cycle.

– At least 81 Fortune 100 companies have donated a total of $ 7.7 million to supporters of the restrictions.

– Almost half of the Fortune 500 companies donated a total of $ 12.8 million to supporters of the restrictions.

– About three-quarters of the companies that changed their donation policies after the U.S. Capitol attack also gave lawmakers advocating voting restrictions.

– More than 60 companies have given lawmakers backing the restrictions at least $ 100,000.

– Regardless, industry and trade associations have made an additional $ 36 million available to lawmakers, of which $ 16 million was made available in the 2020 cycle.

In response, AT&T said “the right to vote is sacred” but declined to say whether the company would withhold donations to state lawmakers, as it did for members of Congress protesting Biden’s victory.

“We understand that electoral laws are complicated, not our company’s expertise and ultimately the responsibility of elected officials. However, as a company, we have a responsibility to get involved, ”said John Stankey, CEO of AT&T, in a statement.

Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon, said in a statement, “We are firmly against passing any law or taking any action that would make it difficult to vote.” But he stopped promising a certain act.

Comcast said in a statement that “efforts to limit or hinder a citizen’s access to this vital constitutional right are inconsistent with our values.” The company would not comment on whether it would evaluate its donations to lawmakers who support the measures.

Altria, parent company of Philip Morris, said in a statement that “every eligible voter should be able to exercise their right to vote” and vowed to monitor the “alignment of lawmakers with our guiding principles for political contribution in future contribution decisions”.

Other companies listed in the report declined to comment or responded to inquiries from The Associated Press.

The pressure was particularly strong in Georgia, where Republican Governor Brian Kemp recently signed a sweeping new law banning people from distributing or water to queuing voters and passing it to the Republican-controlled State Election Board enables county electoral officials to be removed and replaced under many other provisions.

Two of the top recipients of corporate contributions listed in Public Citizen’s report were among the action’s sponsors.

As of 2015, Republican Senator Jeff Mullis has raised more than $ 869,000 in donations from corporate PACs. His top corporate donors included AT&T ($ 15,900) and United Health Group ($ 12,900), according to the report. Mullis chairs the Georgia Senate Regulatory Committee, which plays a key role in deciding which bills to vote on.

Republican Senator Butch Miller, another sponsor of the bill, has received corporate donations of at least $ 729,000 since 2015. Its top corporate donors include United Health Group ($ 15,700) and AT&T ($ 13,600), the report said.

Miller and Mullis did not respond to requests for comment.

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