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Corporations have given more than $ 50 million to supporters of voting restrictions

Washington (AP) – When Coca-Cola և Delta Air Lines executives last week opposed Georgia’s new voting law as an unnecessary restriction, it seemed a signal of new activity coming from the American corporation.

But if the leaders of the nation’s most popular companies are going to reject lawmakers who support restrictive voting, they will have to back off.

State lawmakers across the state who have voted in favor of new voting restrictions, such as those who used baseless allegations of electoral fraud by former President Donald Trump, have raised more than $ 50 million in corporate donations in recent years, according to a new Citizen Report. Washington-based government monitoring group.

Telecommunications giant AT&T was the most prolific. Since 2015, it has donated more than $ 800,000 to the authors of the proposed restrictions, sponsors of such events or those who voted for the bills. Donors from the same period include Comcast, Philip Morris, United Health, Walmart, Verizon, General Motors and Pfizer.

The money may not have been given in accordance with the voting laws, but it did help to strengthen Republican control in the state chambers, where many of the prohibitions are now moving forward.

Will companies continue to give in to these legislators, testing the extent to which corrupt executives are willing to criticize their restrictive efforts, which voting human rights groups have seen as an attack on democracy?

“In fact, corporate America in general is funding these politicians,” said Mike Tanglis, one of the report’s authors. “It seems that many people are trying to hide under the rock, they hope that this issue will pass.”

Earlier, more than 120 companies detailed in the report said they would reconsider their donations to members of Congress who, in the same falsity as state lawmakers, objected to Trump’s assertion of President Joe Biden’s victory in a deadly attack on the US Capitol. supporters:

Tensions are most pronounced now in Georgia, where a new far-reaching voting law has drawn widespread national attention, prompting criticism from Delta and Coca-Cola. On Friday, MLB announced that it would no longer host the 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta.

It is still unclear whether this new aggressive attitude will spread to corporate campaign donation practices. And early indicators show that there is a risk.

Georgia’s Republican-backed House has voted to strip Delta of its tax privilege for criticizing a new bill worth tens of millions of dollars a year, although the move came after the GOP Senate failed to pass it before adjourning it.

However, it is certain that holding corporate donations to state-level candidates, as many companies at the federal level have done, will have a much greater impact on state-owned enterprises.

“The $ 5,000 investment is a bucket for a $ 30 million US senator. “But in some of these state races, a few thousand dollars can buy a lot of advertising time,” Tanglis said. “If corporate America is going to say that (Trump) lies are unacceptable at the federal level, what about the state level?”

The public citizen analyzed about 245 bills restricting voting, which were proposed before March 1. They canceled the list of sponsors և sponsors while analyzing the ballots. They then transferred the data through state-level donation records dating back to 2015, which included money from company-sponsored political action committees as well as direct contributions from corporate treasuries.

Among their discoveries.

– Companies have 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 provided a total of $ 7.7 million to supporters of the restrictions.

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

– About three-quarters of companies that changed their donation policy after the US Capitol attack also gave it to lawmakers who supported voting restrictions.

– More than 60 companies have provided at least $ 100,000 to lawmakers supporting the restrictions.

Separately, industry groups լրացուցիչ the trade association invested an additional $ 36 million in legislation, of which $ 16 million was provided during the 2020 cycle.

In response, AT&T said “voting rights are sacred,” but declined to say whether the company would retain donations to state lawmakers, as did members of Congress who opposed Biden’s victory.

“We understand that electoral laws are complex, not our company experience, but ultimately the responsibility of elected officials. But as a company, we owe it to ourselves to get involved, ”said AT & T CEO John von Stanky.

Verizon CEO Hans Westberg says in a statement: “We strongly oppose the adoption of any legislation or any measure that would make voting difficult.” But he stopped promising any concrete action.

“Efforts to restrict or impede this vital constitutional right of any citizen are not in line with our values,” Comcast said in a statement. The company will not comment on whether it will evaluate what it has given to lawmakers who support the measures.

Philip Morris parent company Altria said in a statement that “every voter should be able to exercise their right to vote” and promised to monitor legislators’ compliance with the guiding principles of our political input in future decisions.

Other companies listed on the Companies page declined to comment or respond to inquiries from The Associated Press.

Press scrutiny has been particularly acute in Georgia, where Republican Gov. Brian Kemp recently signed a new law banning people waiting in line for food or water, and the Republican-controlled State Electoral Council allows the removal and replacement of district election officials. : among many other provisions.

The event was sponsored by the top two recipients of corporate investments, which are detailed in the Public Citizen report.

Since 2015, Republican Sen. Ff Mulis has raised more than $ 869,000 from corporate PACs. According to the report, its main donors were AT&T ($ 15,900) and United Health Group ($ 12,900). Mullis is the chairman of the Senate Senate Rules Committee, which plays a key role in determining which bills need to be put to a vote.

Another sponsor of the bill, Republican Sen. Butch Miller, has received at least $ 729,000 in corporate donations since 2015. Its report states that its main donors are United Health Group ($ 15,700) and AT&T ($ 13,600).

Miller and Mallis did not respond to requests for comment.

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This story has been corrected to show that the airline’s name is Delta Air Lines, not Delta Airlines.

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