Companies donated over $ 50 million to supporters of voting restrictions

Washington (AP) — When Coca-Cola and Delta executives said last week that they were unreasonably restrictive to Georgia’s new voting law, it seemed to indicate a new activity born of the company’s United States.

But if the leaders of the country’s most prominent companies try to reject lawmakers in favor of restrictive voting, they will suddenly have to turn around.

State legislators across the country, who pushed for new voting restrictions and seized the allegations of unfounded fraudulent elections by former President Donald Trump, have recently won more than $ 50 million in corporate donations. According to a new report by Public Citizen, Washington-based government surveillance group.

Telecom giant AT & T is the most prolific and has donated more than $ 800,000 to the creators of the proposed restrictions, co-sponsors of such measures, or those who voted in favor of the bill since 2015. Found. Other top donors during the same period include Comcast, Philip Morris, United Health, Walmart, Verizon, General Motors and Pfizer.

Although it may not have been funded with voting laws in mind, many bans have helped strengthen Republican control in the ongoing State Capitol.

Whether companies continue to give these lawmakers is how risk-averse corporate leaders are blaming their increasingly strong criticism of the restrictive efforts that voting groups are blaming as an attack on democracy. Test if you want to go.

“It’s actually the United States as a whole that is funding these politicians,” said Mike Tangris, one of the authors of the report.

Earlier, more than 120 companies detailed in the report opposed proof of President Joe Biden’s victory following Trump’s deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol and acted on the same falsehood as state legislatures. He said he would reconsider donations to the House of Representatives. Supporter.

Tensions are now most apparent in Georgia, where a wide range of new voting methods drew intense national scrutiny and prompted criticism from Delta and Coca-Cola. On Friday, MLB announced that it would not host the 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta.

However, it is unclear whether this positive new stance extends to corporate campaign donation practices. And early indicators show that there is a risk.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives in Georgia resolved to remove tens of millions of dollars in tax cuts from Delta each year because of criticism of the new law, which was picked up by the GOP Senate before Congress was postponed. The case was invalidated because it was not.

But what is certain is that withholding corporate donations to state-level candidates, as many companies did at the federal level, will have a far greater impact on the State Capitol.

“A $ 5,000 donation to a US Senator raising $ 30 million is a drop in buckets. But in some of these state races, you can buy a lot of advertising time for thousands of dollars. You can, “says Tanglis. “If the US company says that (Trump’s) lies are unacceptable at the federal level, what about at the state level?”

Public Citizen has analyzed about 245 voting restriction bills proposed before March 1. They also analyzed the voting roll call and screened the list of sponsors and co-sponsors. We then cross-referenced state-level donation records and data dating back to 2015. This included funding from corporate-sponsored political action committees and direct donations from corporate finance.

In their findings:

— The company has donated at least $ 50 million to lawmakers who supported voting 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 limit.

— Almost half of all Fortune 500 companies donated a total of $ 12.8 million to supporters of the limit.

— Approximately three-quarters of companies that change their donation policy after the US Capitol attack also donate to lawmakers who support voting restrictions.

— More than 60 companies have donated at least $ 100,000 to lawmakers who upheld the limit.

— Separately, trade associations and trade associations donated an additional $ 36 million to lawmakers, of which $ 16 million was donated in the 2020 cycle.

In response, AT & T said “the right to vote is sacred,” but did not say whether to refrain from donating to state legislatures, as in the case of the House of Representatives who opposed Biden’s victory. ..

“We understand that election law is complex and it is ultimately the responsibility of the elected civil servants, not our expertise, but as a company, the responsibility of engaging us. “There is,” AT & T CEO John Stanky said in a statement.

Verizon CEO Hans Bestberg said in a statement that he “strongly opposes the passage of the bill and the adoption of measures that make voting difficult.” I couldn’t promise.

“Efforts to limit or block citizens’ access to this important constitutional right are inconsistent with our values,” Comcast said in a statement. The company does not comment on whether to value donations to lawmakers who support the measure.

In a statement, Philip Morris’ parent company Altria said, “All voters should be able to exercise their right to vote,” and the legislator’s “consistency with political contribution guiding principles in making future contribution decisions.” I promised to monitor.

Other companies listed in the report declined to comment or did not respond to the Associated Press inquiry.

Pressure is particularly high in Georgia, with Republican Governor Brian Kemp recently banning the distribution of food and water to voters in line, and Republican-controlled State Election Commission dismissing county election officials. Signed a radical new law allowing them to be replaced. , Among many other provisions.

The top two corporate contributions detailed in the Public Citizen report were one of the sponsors of the bill.

Since 2015, Republican Senator Jeff Maris has raised over $ 869,000 in donations from corporate PACs. According to the report, among his top corporate donors were AT & T ($ 15,900) and United Health Group ($ 12,900). Mullis is chair of the Georgia Senate Rules Committee and plays an important role in deciding which bills will be voted on.

Republican Senator Butch Miller, another sponsor of the bill, has received at least $ 729,000 in corporate donations since 2015. Among his top corporate donors are UnitedHealth Group ($ 15,700) and AT & T ($ 13,600).

Miller and Mullis did not respond to requests for comment.

Posted on