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Corporations struggling to support voting rights, U.S. report says


A handful of massive corporations have received poor marks on how they’ve responded to a wide selection of voting rights and democracy issues, including the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, in line with a recent report from a company accountability group.

Accountable.US, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporate watchdog, is releasing its American Democracy Scorecard, which grades the highest 100 corporations inside the Fortune 500. Accountable.US has links to the Recent Enterprise Fund, an enormous 501(c)(3) nonprofit group that always funds progressive causes. The Recent Enterprise Fund spent over $440 million in 2020, in line with its latest 990 filing form, including a $1.4 million donation to Accountable.US.

The group gave a harsh assessment of how U.S. corporate titans have handled voting rights and democracy. Over 60% of the businesses assessed received a failing F letter grade, in line with scores first shown to CNBC and set to be made public this week.

Most of the other corporations Accountable graded didn’t fare a lot better. One other 16% received a D letter grade, 5% got a C and 13% received a B grade. None of the businesses got an A letter grade.

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

“Americans overwhelmingly say corporations should arise for democracy, yet we’re seeing the overwhelming majority of major corporations failing miserably,” Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, said in a press release to CNBC. Herrig said he plans to send letters to the CEOs of the ten lowest scoring corporations.

He plans to inform the CEOs they’re “currently failing to arise for democracy” but that “it just isn’t too late to get your priorities straight and start aligning your values with the values shared by most Americans,” in line with a letter addressed to AT&T CEO John Stankey.

The brand new scorecard could put further pressure on corporations to change each their plans for the 2022 midterm elections and overall engagement on voting rights laws.

The group’s grading methodology focused on 14 criteria, including whether the corporate has supported lawmakers that opposed voting-related laws and whether the business donated to campaigns of Republican lawmakers who objected to certifying the 2020 presidential election.

Representatives of the businesses named on this story didn’t reply to requests for comment.

The scorecard comes amid a flurry of questions on what role corporations must have as Congress considers methods to reply to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and methods to reply to restrictive state voting laws.

Senate Republicans voted to dam a sweeping pair of voting rights bills in January. Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia then joined the GOP in opposing changes to the chamber’s filibuster rules, which could have allowed Democrats to pass laws on their very own.

An NBC News poll from August showed that 21% of respondents said “threats to democracy” is crucial issue facing the country just months before the midterms, the next share than selected another issue.

The scorecard also arrives because the House select committee investigating the origins of the Jan. 6 attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump goals to have additional hearings in September.

Over 140 Republican lawmakers moved to object to the outcomes of the 2020 election after the Jan. 6 riot. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., later told Reuters that he “agreed with objections that were made to 2 states, especially because constitutional questions have been raised about changes to election processes and whether these changes were approved by their respective legislatures, as required in Article II.”

Accountable says that as of Aug. 19, its review of Federal Election Commission filings shows that corporate political motion committees have donated over $20 million in the course of the 2022 election cycle to lawmakers who opposed voting laws similar to the Democrat-led Freedom to Vote Act.

Many corporations after the Jan. 6 attack said their PACs would stop contributing to campaigns of the objectors or to lawmakers on each side of the aisle. Some businesses have resumed donating to those campaigns.

At the very least $5 million has gone from corporate PACs to 2020 election objectors this cycle, Accountable’s data shows.

For example, Accountable says Home Depot got an F grade partially due to its donations to federal lawmakers who opposed voting laws and objected to the 2020 election certification. The group’s data shows that the corporate PAC has donated not less than $845,000 to members of Congress who opposed federal voting rights laws.

The report says that the Home Depot company PAC has donated not less than $360,000 to lawmakers who objected to certifying the outcomes of the election. The corporate said after Jan. 6 that it was “pausing to take time to rigorously review and reevaluate each of the members who voted to object to the election results before considering further contributions to them.”

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC.

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