These companies are funding GOP governors' dangerous push to reopen


The Republican Governors Association has been pushing states for speedy reopenings, even as COVID-19 remains a huge threat.

At least 19 American companies have given millions of dollars to a group of Republican governors pushing hard to reopen their states in the middle of a pandemic. A review of federal tax records finds that the group, the Republican Governors Association, has received more than $100,000 from each of the companies and trade associations already this year.

The governors' group has repeatedly hailed the efforts of many Republican governors as they plowed ahead with their plans to lift stay-at-home orders, reopen businesses, and eliminate policies put in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past several weeks. It also mocked Democratic governors who have not yet done so.

All of the governors touted by the group have been moving faster than federal safety guidelines recommend. The White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on April 16 that states should first meet their five-point guidelines for "Opening Up America Again." Just three states — Democratic-run Connecticut, Illinois, and New York — have met all five as of Wednesday, according to a ProPublica analysis.

Arizona, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and West Virginia — Republican-run states the group has highlighted — are still seeing an increase in per-capita positive coronavirus tests, percentage of positive tests, or both.

On May 5, the official Republican Governors Association Twitter account shared a story from the Washington Times about a "report card on states' reopening." The tweet noted that, "Four states received a failing grade of 'F' — New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, plus the District of Columbia. All are run by Democrats."

But the so-called "report card" was actually an analysis by Stephen Moore, a Trump adviser and conservative economist best known for having "joked" about banning women from sports, along with disgraced economist Art Laffer, former Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes, and anti-government activist Phil Kerpen.

The group also played up Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Forest's attacks on North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's response, saying that some parts of the state should be able to opt out of safety rules.

Unlike federal candidates and political action committees, the Republican Governors Association is a 527 committee and is allowed to accept unlimited sums of money directly from corporations and trade groups. According to its 2020 filings, it has received money from every one of these businesses or organizations already this year:

$400,000 from Marathon Petroleum, a fossil fuel company.

$265,000 from Vertex Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company known for its cystic fibrosis drugs.

$250,000 from Anthem, a Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance company.

$250,000 from Centene Management, a managed health care company.

$250,000 from HNTB, an infrastructure design firm.

$250,000 from Koch Industries, a petrochemical company.

$250,000 from Majestic Realty, a real estate developer.

$250,000 from Molina Healthcare, a managed health care company.

$250,000 from NextEra Energy, an electrical utility.

$250,000 from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the trade association for the pharmaceutical industry.

$156,698 from Biotechnology Innovation Organization, the trade association for the biotechnology industry.

$155,000 from Walmart, the retail behemoth.

$150,000 from General Motors, the automobile manufacturing giant.

$135,000 from the American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for the fossil fuel industry.

$125,000 from Tellurian, a natural gas company.

$125,000 from Vistra Energy, an energy company.

$110,000 from Gilead Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company.

$105,000 from Boeing, the aerospace company and defense contractor.

$100,754 from Coca-Cola, the soft drink giant.

All totaled, those companies have given more than $3,872,000 toward the group's 2020 efforts.

None responded immediately to inquiries about their donations and pandemic safety. The Republican Governors Association did not respond to an inquiry for this story either.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.