Corporations ignore Mitch McConnell's threat to 'stay out of politics'


The heads of the biggest companies in Michigan have entered the debate around voting rights.

The heads of three dozen of Michigan's biggest companies on Tuesday issued a statement slamming the effort by Michigan Republicans to make it harder to vote, the Associated Press reported.

The statement is a sign that corporate America is undeterred by threats from Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who warned companies on April 6 to "stay out of politics."

"Government must support equitable access to the ballot to ensure that all eligible voters can exercise their rights," reads the statement, which was signed by General Motors, Ford, and all four professional sports teams in Michigan — the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Lions, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Detroit Pistons. "Government must avoid actions that reduce participation in elections — particularly among historically disenfranchised communities, persons with disabilities, older adults, racial minorities and low-income voters."

Michigan Republicans, like their legislative counterparts across the country, are pushing a raft of voter suppression bills, including restrictions like limiting the use of ballot drop boxes, forcing voters to include a copy of their ID to vote absentee, banning local election officials from providing prepaid postage on absentee ballots, and prohibiting election officials from sending out unsolicited absentee ballot applications.

Because Michigan is led by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — who would veto voter suppression legislation — GOP activists in the state are seeking to pass a "citizen-initiated law" that is not subjected to a gubernatorial veto.

The statement from the major Michigan companies follows in the footsteps of other major American corporations who have spoken out against the GOP effort to make it harder to vote in other states across the country, such as Georgia and Texas.

Facing pressure from voting rights activists, Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola — some of the largest employers in Georgia — condemned the Republican-driven voter suppression law in the state, calling it "unacceptable" and based on the "lie" that fraud tainted the 2020 election. Major League Baseball even pulled the 2021 All-Star Game from Georgia in protest of the law, which limits the use of ballot drop boxes, requires ID to vote by mail, criminalizes giving food and drink to voters waiting in line, and gives state Republican lawmakers more power to meddle in election procedures.

American Airlines, Dell, and Microsoft also spoke out against voter suppression bills in Texas, which would make it harder for the disabled to vote, and give more power to partisan poll watchers, among other things.

Corporate America's outspoken opposition to the nationwide GOP voter suppression effort has rankled Republicans, who rather than amend the legislation that has sparked corporate ire have instead sought to shift blame as well as issue overt threats for companies to keep their mouths shut about voting rights.

Aside from McConnell's warning for companies to be silent on the issue of voting rights, Republicans in the Georgia state House tried to punish Delta for speaking out by attempting to pull a tax break the company received.

And a group of Republicans in Congress said they want to strip MLB of its antitrust exemption.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.