Georgia GOP resorts to extortion to bully Delta into supporting the NRA


Republican lawmakers are threatening to punish a private company for cutting ties with the NRA.

Georgia's Republican lieutenant governor lashed out at Delta Air Lines on Monday, threatening to block any tax legislation that benefits the company after it ended its corporate partnership with the NRA.

Delta, which is headquartered in Atlanta, ended a discount program for NRA members on Saturday in the face of growing public outcry after the Valentine's Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

"Delta is reaching out to the National Rifle Association to let it know we will be ending its contract for discounted rates through our group travel program," the company tweeted on Saturday. "We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from its website."

Delta joins a growing number of companies cutting ties with the NRA, which has responded to the Parkland shooting by trying to discredit the teen survivors and calling for more guns in schools.

The company said its decision "reflects the airline's neutral status in the current national debate over gun control amid recent school shootings."

"Out of respect for our customers and employees on both sides, Delta has taken this action to refrain from entering this debate and focus on its business," the airline said in a statement Saturday. "Delta continues to support the 2nd Amendment."

In response to Delta's announcement, Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle tweeted that he would block any legislation that includes tax benefits for the private company until it renews its partnership with the NRA.

"I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA," Cagle said Monday. "Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back."

As the Atlanta Business Chronicle pointed out, this is not the first time Delta has withdrawn its support for an organization over a politically contentious issue.

"Last year, the company withdrew its sponsorship of a theater that staged a graphic interpretation of 'Julius Caesar' depicting the assassination of President Trump," the newspaper noted.

Despite this, Cagle, who is currently running for governor, accused Delta and other companies that have cut ties with the NRA of engaging in "viewpoint discrimination against conservatives and law-abiding gun owners."

Delta was reportedly in the final stages of getting approval from Georgia state lawmakers to renew an expired fuel tax break that would save the company an estimated $40 million.

Several other Georgia Republican lawmakers have joined Cagle and suggested that they will not support the tax break unless Delta reverses its decision.

But Republicans may want to think twice about their attempt to extort a private company for making a decision they don't like.

Delta ranks as one of the largest employers in Georgia, providing jobs to more than 33,000 people in the state. Furthermore, according to Vote Smart, the airline was actually one of the top contributors to the lieutenant governor who is now threatening to extort the airline.

Apparently, though, Republican lawmakers care more about staying in the good graces of the NRA than protecting jobs — and public safety — in their own backyard.