In July, some of the world’s biggest tech and retail companies signed a letter urging Congress to pass legislation to strengthen the Voting Rights Act, the “crown jewel of civil rights legislation,” they said.
After Senate Republicans universally rejected other voting rights legislation in the months that followed, political groups tied to those same corporations continued to donate thousands of dollars to the campaigns of GOP senators who voted against it – including senators who recently blocked restoration of the Voting Rights Act.
Watchdog organisation Accountable.US revealed that eight major corporations that signed the letter urging passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act have donated a combined $164,000 this year to Republican senators who voted against the bill on 3 November, according to a review of publicly available campaign finance data.
Microsoft Corporation Stakeholders Voluntary PAC and Facebook PAC Inc spent a combined $22,500 in September, after signing the letter and after GOP senators voted down the For The People Act and vowed to block the Voting Rights Act.
Target Corporation Citizens Political Forum donated $11,500 between July and September and $32,000 throughout the year, including $5,000 to Mitch McConnell in June, after he said the John Lewis bill was “unnecessary.”
That month, Target’s PAC spent $20,500 on groups affiliated with GOP senators.
So far this year, Facebook’s PAC spent $26,500 on GOP senators, including $14,000 in September alone.
Dell Technologies Inc Political Action Committee donated $38,500 to GOP-affiliated campaigns between March and June before signing on to the letter.
Amazon.Com Services LLC Separate Segregated Fund donated $22,500 in May and June 2021.
Last month, Accountable.US found that several companies that have publicly supported voting rights donated a combined $174,000 in 2021 alone to Senate Republicans who blocked such legislation.
The Senate’s latest failure to pass voting rights legislation marks the first time that the Voting Rights Act has not passed with bipartisan support in decades. Sixteen sitting Republican senators who previously voted to reauthorise the Voting Rights Act refused to move it forward.
“The Republican senators who once helped preserve the freedom to vote need to explain why they now want to deny that fundamental right for millions, including many disabled Americans,” Accountable.US president Kyle Herrig said in a statement.
“The recent rash of egregious state-level voter suppression schemes aimed at people of color is all the reminder they need that Congress plays as vital a role today as it ever has in protecting the right to vote for all,” he said.
The Independent has requested comment from companies named in the report.
So far this year, GOP state lawmakers in at least 19 states have enacted 33 election laws that make it harder to vote, including measures to consolidate electoral oversight in Republican-dominated state legislatures.
States have also started the once-a-decade process of redrawing political boundaries without federal guardrails against racial gerrymandering for the first time since passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.
The Supreme Court in 2013 tossed out a crucial element of the Voting Rights Act that requires jurisdictions with histories of discrimination to have federal “preclearance” before proposed rule changes can go into effect. And earlier this year, it undermined a key section of the Voting Rights Act that prohibits racially discriminatory voting laws.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore those guardrails. It also includes the Native American Voting Rights Act, which aims to address voter suppression issues and other barriers to voting among Indigenous communities.
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