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Target, Google and others are under pressure to dump the Chamber of Commerce over voting rights

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The House is one of the most powerful trading groups in the nation. In 2020 alone, the organization spent $ 81.9 million trying to influence government policy, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The only organization that spent the most was the National Association of Realtors.
The activist campaign highlights the companies are under enormous pressure to follow their verbal support for voting rights with concrete actions.

“By ignoring the House’s opposition to a bill that protects an essential right in our democracy, these executives are violating their commitment and supporting millions of Americans (including many of their own employees) who are fighting against racist voter suppression tactics, “Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, told CNN Business.

“Serious risk” to the brand’s reputation

Letters were sent to 17 companies that Accountable.US says are official members of the Chamber of Commerce, including Target, BlackRock (BLK), Citigroup, Google, Microsoft (MSFT), American Airlines (AAL), IBM (IBM) i Merck (MRK), whose CEO, Ken Frazier, has helped lead a campaign among black executives to oppose restrictive voting legislation.
“By continuing to provide financial and social support to the House, Target contradicts the promise you have recently made to you and hundreds of other companies,” Accountable.US wrote in a letter. Goal (TGT) CEO Brian Cornell will step down from company members.

The group warned that supporting the Chamber of Commerce “poses a serious risk to Target’s reputation”.

A separate letter sent to Google CEO Sundar Pichai argued that “silence on this matter is tantamount to endorsing the House’s decision and showing where Google is to protect a person’s right to vote.”

Accountable.US sent letters to eight other companies whose executives belong to the board of the Chamber of Commerce or who have appeared on the website of the foundation of the Chamber.

“If they really believe in protecting one of our most fundamental constitutional rights, they have no choice but to sever ties with the House,” Herrig said.

In a statement to CNN Business, a spokesman for the Chamber of Commerce described the Accountable.US campaign as a “distortion” of what the organization has said. The spokesman stressed that the Chamber of Commerce is deeply concerned about efforts to change the electoral law in a partisan way because this can erode confidence in the election results.

“Our elected leaders, Democrats and Republicans, need to grow in common when they make changes to electoral laws. We need consensus and not division on important issues,” the Chamber of Commerce said.

Most companies did not respond to requests for comment. Citi and Google declined to comment.

The Chamber of Commerce says the bill will “silence” some Americans

Companies usually take positions different from those of the trade associations to which they belong.

“We work with many coalitions, trade groups and industry associations on a wide range of issues,” Ford said in a statement. “When it comes to voting rights, Ford’s position is clear: we believe that equitable access to voting rights for all people is the foundation of a democratic society.”

Recently, Google threw its weight behind the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, an independent, Democratic-backed bill that would restore a key part of the historic voting rights law that was passed by the Supreme Court in 2013.
One of America's First Black Executives Struggles Bones Georgia Law as Blatant Attempt to Suppress Black Vote
“We are concerned about efforts to restrict voting locally and strongly support John Lewis’ Voting Rights Advancement Act, ”said Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president of global affairs. tweet at the end of last month.

Last week, the Chamber of Commerce sent a “key vote alert” to senators detailing why it “strongly opposes” the People’s Law and warned it could include votes related to the bill in its chart of annual command.

The Chamber of Commerce argued that changes to the election law should be made bipartisanly and said the Democratic bill pushed “certain voices, representing large segments of the U.S. electorate and economy. , to get out of the political process “.

The House was particularly concerned about new restrictions on communications by associations. The bill “would regulate and ultimately silence Americans who choose to submit petitions to their government or participate in the political process through the collective action of an association or corporation,” the letter said. key vote of the Chamber of Commerce.

Boycott threats: from both sides

CEOs face a difficult balance to defend democracy without alienating customers or provoking a backlash against politicians and regulators.

Hundreds of companies subscribed to last week’s full-page ad in the NY Times pledging to oppose “any discriminatory legislation or measure that restricts or prevents any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to vote.” .

After Major League Baseball, Delta Air Lines (DAL) and others expressed opposition to the controversial ancient Georgia law President Donald Trump called for a boycott of these brands. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that companies “will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for people on the far left.”
Parliamentarians in Georgia threatened to revoke tax credits for the benefit of Delta after the CEO Ed Bastian exploited the state’s electoral law.

At the same time, companies that have taken a more cautious approach to talking about voting rights are under pressure.

Georgia ‘s religious leaders called for a boycott this week Home Depot (HD) because the Atlanta-based company has not publicly opposed the state’s election law. This boycott could be expanded to Chick-Fil-A and Arby’s.
LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman urges business leaders to support verbal support for voting rights cut funding for politicians which seek to limit voting rights

“This is an important moment in history,” Hoffman told CNN Business by email. “It may be a longer battle than it should be, but I know which side of the struggle, as a patriotic American citizen and as a businessman, I want to continue.”

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