The New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter Fund and the Georgia NAACP called on businesses that make political donations like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, the Southern Company and Delta Airlines to take action against legislation that advances voter suppression.
The companies were also asked to divest from elected officials who oppose inclusive democracy reforms. The Popular Information investigation explored the hypocrisy of corporations publicly embracing voting rights while funding those who oppose it.
Forward-facing public campaigns have centered on voting rights and honoring the late John Lewis since last summer. But close to 30 co-sponsors of two major voter suppression bills received donations from Coca-Cola.
Sen. Brandon Beach, a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 241, joined efforts to undo election results in Georgia and several other states. Beach was among several Republicans who supported Donald Trump‘s election lies. According to Popular Information, Beach received donations from Coca-Cola and Delta.
“Corporate brands leverage Georgia’s civil rights history to fatten their bottom dollar,” Nse Ufot, New Georgia Project CEO, said in an interview with Popular Information. “It’s time to call the question: Where do you stand on this issue? Which side are you on? They don’t get to hide in the shadows.”
Coca-Cola tried to sidestep the issue by claiming it supports a balanced approach to elections. Coca-Cola said it has paused its political donations after the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol.
Corporations spent a large part of last year trying to build goodwill with Black consumers in the wake of the racial justice uprising. Advocacy groups have lobbied Georgia corporations to take public stances on various legislation. Five years ago, a coalition of Georgia corporations opposed a religious freedom bill.
A similar stance was taken in 2019 after Georgia passed a restrictive abortion ban. Hollywood studio executives and showrunners expressed concern about continuing to film in the Peach State if the law took effect.
In August 2020, Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian shared steps to “become an anti-discrimination organization,” noting advocacy around hate crimes legislation passed last year. Bastian wrote three ways the company would address the inequity directly related to the current fight against voter suppression.
- Helping to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to exercise their right to vote, including supporting the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s call to attract new poll workers and leveraging our new Alumni BRG.
- Ensuring Delta’s PAC giving evaluates a candidate’s ethics and commitment to working toward racial equality.
- Actively seeking and supporting national and state legislation that fights discrimination and advocates for just and equal treatment.