Building on Democrats’ claim that election-integrity laws like Georgia’s are intended to suppress the minority vote, more than 100 of the nation’s top corporate leaders held a Zoom meeting to organize opposition to similar laws that have been introduced in 47 states.
“The gathering was an enthusiastic voluntary statement of defiance against threats of reprisals for exercising their patriotic voices,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale University management professor who helped organize the event, CBS News reported.
Sonnenfeld said the corporate leaders who met Saturday “recognize that they need to step up to the plate and are not fearful of these reprisals.”
“They’re showing a disdain for these political attacks. Not only are they fortifying each other, but they see that this spreading of disease of voter restrictions from Georgia to up to possibly 46 other states is based on a false premise and its’ anti-democratic,” he said.
Lawmakers in 47 states have introduced 361 bills to bolster election integrity, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center. Of those, at least 55 are moving through legislatures in 24 states. Georgia’s is among five bills that have been signed into law.
Proponents of Georgia’s law argue it actually expands ballot access, and other measures are in the U.S. legal mainstream. Democrats complain that voter ID laws suppress the black vote in particular. But many black leaders consider that notion condescending at best, built on the assumption that blacks lack the ability to obtain a photo ID, which is necessary to function in so many other areas of public life.
Reacting to the corporate confab Saturday, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., asked on Twitter: “How many of these CEOs that are so concerned that Georgia requires ID to vote are also sponsoring the #GenocideGames in communist China next winter?”
Sonnenfeld said he invited 120 CEOs with about 50 hours notice, “praying” that 25 would show up, CBS reported. But he got 90, along with another 30 invited guests, “including legal experts, technology experts and historians.”
Many of the leaders are part of an alliance of more than 1,000 corporations that, in effect, have identified themselves as opponents of election integrity, WND reported last week.
The Civic Alliance boasts on its website that “as a coalition of businesses, we use our voice, our brand, and our reach to strengthen our democracy” and “support safe, accessible, and trusted elections.” However, the objective of making elections “accessible” translates to opposition to laws such as Georgia’s that seek to ensure that every vote represents a legitimate voter and that voters are not disenfranchised.
Amid the controversy over Georgia’s law, the Civic Alliance issued a letter condemning any effort to “restrict” ballot access, signed by 200 companies, including Salesforce, ViacomCBS and The Estée Lauder Companies.
‘Wading into politically charged areas’
The Wall Street Journal reported a statement could come early this week from the executives on the Zoom call Saturday. It would build on one signed last month by 72 black executives in response to Georgia’ voting law.
The Journal said, however, that many of the companies were “wary of wading into politically charged areas.” One executive told the Journal it was a “no-win situation from a corporate standpoint.”
Among the attendees at the meeting Saturday were Arthur Blank, owner of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons; James Murdoch, the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch; Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart; Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines; Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines; Chip Bergh, chairman of Levi Strauss Company; and Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn, CBS said.
After condemnation of the Georgia law by President Biden — who called it “Jim Crow on steroids” — and Georgia-based corporations, including Delta and Coca-Cola, Major League Baseball decided to withdraw the All-Star Game from Atlanta.
Republican leaders, including Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott, have argued the Georgia law is no more restrictive than Delaware’s election laws, for example, arguing Major League Baseball has “adopted what has turned out to be a false narrative about the election law reforms in Georgia.”
The Georgia law requires proof of identification but it also expands the number of early voting days, and it continues to allow voters to cast absentee ballots without an excuse.
Biden continues to make false claims about the Georgia law, even after earning the maximum four “Pinocchios” from the Washington Post fact-checker. In response, a Georgia state lawmaker, noting that laws in the president’s home state of Delaware are more protective of election integrity than Georgia’s, has proposed legislation called The President Joe Biden Jim Crow On Steroids Voter Act. He said it will have five key features, to make Georgia’s laws more restrictive, “like Delaware.”
A Rasmussen national survey last month found that 69% of likely black voters and 75% overall believe voters should be required to show photo identification such as a driver’s license before being allowed to vote.
Candace Owens, a black conservative activist and author, said last week that any corporation “telling you that Voter ID laws are racist is run by white supremacists.”
“Black people know how to get ID,” she wrote on Twitter, with the hashtags #coke and #delta.
“Pretending we are too stupid to figure out how to get to the DMV is an insult and speaks volumes about what Democrats truly think about us.”