US report says corporations are struggling to help voting rights

A handful of large corporations have received poor marks for how they have responded to a variety of voting rights and democracy issues, including the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to a new report by a corporate accountability group.

Accountable.US, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporate watchdog, publishes its American Democracy Scorecard, which ranks the top 100 companies in the Fortune 500 )(3) nonprofit group that often funds progressive causes. According to its most recent 990 application form, the New Venture Fund spent over $440 million in 2020, including a $1.4 million donation to Accountable.US.

The group delivered a harsh assessment of how US corporate titans have dealt with voting rights and democracy. Over 60% of the companies evaluated received an F fail, according to results first submitted to CNBC and due to be released this week.

Many of the other companies rated Accountable didn’t fare much better. Another 16% received a D grade, 5% a C grade, and 13% a B grade. None of the companies received an A grade.

Companies that received an F grade include Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC; AT&T; hardware store; Pfizer; Boeing; and Verizon. Those who received a B grade from Accountable include Tesla, Apple, Citigroup, and Bank of America.

“Americans overwhelmingly say that corporations should stand up for democracy, but we see the vast majority of large corporations fail miserably,” Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, said in a statement to CNBC. Herrig said he plans to send letters to the CEOs of the 10 lowest-scoring companies.

He plans to tell CEOs that they are “currently failing to stand up for democracy,” but that “it’s not too late to get your priorities right and start aligning your values ​​with the values ​​that matter.” shared by most Americans,” reads a letter addressed to AT&T CEO John Stankey.

The new scorecard could put further pressure on companies to change both their plans for the 2022 midterm elections and their overall commitment to voting rights legislation.

The group’s scoring methodology focused on 14 criteria, including whether the company has supported lawmakers who opposed election-related legislation and whether the company has donated to campaigns by Republican lawmakers who have objected to certification of the 2020 presidential election.

Representatives of the companies named in this story did not respond to requests for comment.

The scorecard comes amid a spate of questions about what role corporations should play as Congress considers how to respond to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol and how to respond to restrictive state election laws.

Senate Republicans voted in January to block a sweeping voting rights bill. Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia then joined the GOP to oppose changes to the chamber’s filibuster rules that could have allowed Democrats to pass legislation themselves.

An August poll by NBC News showed that 21% of respondents said “threats to democracy” were the most important issue facing the country just months before the midterms, a higher proportion than any other issue.

The scorecard also comes as the House committee investigating the origins of the January 6 attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump seeks further hearings in September.

Over 140 Republican lawmakers have appealed the results of the 2020 election following the Jan. 6 riots. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., later told Reuters that he “concurred with the objections raised against two states, particularly because constitutional questions were raised about changes in the electoral process and whether those changes were authorized by their respective legislatures.” have been approved. as required by Article II.”

Accountable says its Aug. 19 review of Federal Election Commission filings shows that corporate political action committees donated over $20 million during the 2022 election cycle to lawmakers opposed to election laws like the Democrat-led Freedom to have pronounced the Vote Act.

Many companies said after the Jan. 6 attack their PACs would stop contributing to holdout campaigns or to legislators on either side of the aisle. Some companies have resumed their donations to these campaigns.

At least $5 million has flowed from corporate PACs to 2020 voters in this cycle, data from Accountable shows.

For example, Accountable says Home Depot received an F grade in part because of its donations to federal lawmakers who opposed election legislation and opposed the 2020 election certificate. The group’s data shows that the company, PAC, has donated at least $845,000 to members of Congress who have opposed federal voting rights legislation.

According to the report, Home Depot company PAC donated at least $360,000 to lawmakers who opposed confirming the election results. The company said after Jan. 6 that it was “taking a pause to take time to carefully review and re-evaluate each of the members who have objected to the election results before considering further contributions to them to be pulled”.

Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, CNBC’s parent company.

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