April 14, 2021

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McConnell to CEOs: ‘Stay out of politics.’ Republicans threaten businesses opposing Georgia voting law

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WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell denounced the opposition corporations and sports associations have expressed about a recent Georgia voting law, warning that firms should “stay out of politics.”

“I found it completely discouraging to find a bunch of corporate CEOs getting in the middle of politics,” McConnell said during a Monday press conference. “My advice to the corporate CEOs of America is to stay out of politics. Don’t pick sides in these big fights.”

While proponents of the law argue the changes were necessary to ensure election security, voting rights advocates argue the law will disenfranchise minority voters and lead to “a new Jim Crow” era in the state.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks during a hearing before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee on Wednesday.

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The bill adds additional requirements for voter identification to vote; allows counties to choose whether to allow Sunday voting; shortens the period during which a voter can request an absentee ballot; reduces the time between general and run-off elections; and bans the handing out of food and water to voters waiting in line within a certain distance of a polling location, among other reforms.

The bill has also come under withering criticism from national brands, including Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola and Microsoft. On Friday, Major League Baseball announced that it will move its July 13 All-Star Game out of Atlanta over the legislation.

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The Kentucky Republican’s comments culminate a week of increasing Republican backlash to the mounting criticism, with GOP lawmakers in Georgia and Washington threatening retaliation to businesses who oppose their policy agenda.

“@MLB caves to pressure & moves draft & #AllStarGame out of Georgia on the same week they announce a deal with a company backed by the genocidal Communist Party of #China. Why are we still listening to these woke corporate hypocrites on taxes, regulations & anti-trust?” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. wrote in a tweet.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, attacked Delta and United Airlines over their opposition to the law, calling the latter firm “pandering hypocrites” who should “just shut up.”

Georgia Republicans almost passed a law at the end of their legislative session that would have stripped Delta, a major employer in the state headquartered in Atlanta, of certain tax exemptions. Other Republicans have called for boycotts of Coca-Cola products, turning to the soft drink company’s rival, Pepsi Co.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the actions by companies are regrettable but expected given the gravity of the laws’ effects.

“Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected. Unfortunately, the removal of the @MLB All-Star game from GA is likely the 1st of many dominoes to fall, until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed,” Bottoms wrote on Twitter.

On Sunday, 70 prominent Black corporate executives, including the leaders of two Fortune 500 companies, came out in opposition of the legislation.

“As Black business leaders, we cannot sit silently in the face of this gathering threat to our nation’s democratic values and allow the fundamental right of Americans to cast their votes for whomever they choose, to be trampled upon yet again,” a joint letter released by the group reads.

“We call upon our colleagues in Corporate America to join us in taking a non-partisan stand for equality and democracy. Each of us stands ready to work with you on what can and must be done,” the executives urged.

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