Several major corporations have denounced a new state law in Georgia that makes it more difficult for citizens to vote. Delta and Coca-Cola — two Atlanta-based companies — have publicly condemned the law, and Major League Baseball has stripped the city of the 2021 All-Star Game, and tapped Denver to host the event instead.
But when following the money trail from some of the lawmakers backing bills that curb voting rights, it leads directly back to some of those same corporations.
“The biggest contributors are some of the biggest brand names. Nearly half of the Fortune 500 [is] collectively giving over $12 million to back the politicians that are advancing this legislation,” said Rick Claypool, a research director for the Public Citizen President’s office.
Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, recently compiled the data on corporate campaign contributions to state lawmakers either sponsoring or co-sponsoring voter suppression laws — laws that studies show make it harder for communities of color to vote.
Big brands like AT&T, Walmart and State Farm are backing politicians supporting voter suppression legislation in Georgia. Even Coke and Delta — two of the harshest corporate critics of the law — contributed to sponsors of those bills.
In all, Public Citizen found corporations and business trade associations contributed nearly $90 million to various state lawmakers supporting voter suppression bills.
“If they are pouring this kind of money into elections and into these specific legislators, well, then they're going to bear some responsibility for what those legislators do when they get there,” Claypool said.
Public Citizen has already called on corporations to get out of elections altogether. They’re asking the Senate to pass an election reform bill that has already passed the House that would put stricter limits on corporate contributions, influence on elections and create more transparency.
“What really needs to happen is that is for corporations to just get their money out of our democracy,” Claypool said. “Stop spending, alright? Just let the people be in charge.”
Click here to see which companies donated to lawmakers who are supporting voter suppression laws.