Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are less than 72 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign and our independent journalism needs your help today.
If you value our work, please support Common Dreams. This is our hour of need.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

The cover of the new report from Public Citizen—titled "The Corporate Sponsors of Voter Suppression"—features a photoshopped version of an image of Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signing that state's voter suppression bill into law last month with a painting in the background overlaid with logos of major corporate donors who have lavished campaign contributions on the GOP in recent years.

The cover of the new report from Public Citizen—titled "The Corporate Sponsors of Voter Suppression"—features a photoshopped version of an image of Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signing that state's voter suppression bill into law last month with a painting in the background overlaid with logos of major corporate donors who have lavished campaign contributions on the GOP in recent years. (Image via Public Citizen)

'Follow the Money': Corporations Gave $50 Million to GOP Lawmakers Behind Voter Suppression Onslaught

"No matter how many PR statements Big Business puts out, its complicity with the antidemocratic forces that want to make voting harder is clear."

Jake Johnson

Since 2015, AT&T, Comcast, UnitedHealth Group, Walmart, and other big businesses have donated a combined $50 million to state Republican lawmakers who are currently supporting voter suppression bills across the United States—generous political spending at odds with recent corporate efforts to rebrand as defenders of voting rights.

A new report (pdf) released Monday morning by consumer advocacy group Public Citizen found that during the 2020 election cycle alone, U.S. corporations donated $22 million to Republican architects of voter suppression bills that are advancing through state legislatures nationwide.

"Corporations should keep their money out of our democracy—and Congress must put the people back in charge by swiftly passing the For The People Act."
—Rick Claypool, Public Citizen

"AT&T [since 2015] has given the most, $811,000," Public Citizen found, citing data from The National Institute on Money in Politics. "AT&T is followed by Altria/Philip Morris, Comcast, UnitedHealth Group, Walmart, State Farm, and Pfizer. Household names that fell just out of the top 25 list... include Nationwide ($182,000), Merck ($180,000), CVS ($174,000), John Deere ($159,000), and Caterpillar ($157,000)."

"This is why you follow the money, not the good PR," Public Citizen tweeted.

The group's findings came after a number of prominent corporations—including AT&T, Comcast, and Georgia-based companies Coca-Cola and Delta—issued statements denouncing a sweeping Georgia voter suppression measure only after Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed it into law last month.

Despite vocal demands for them to speak out and use their influence to fight the bill, those companies were largely quiet as the measure made its way through Georgia's Republican-dominated legislature.

Between 2015 and 2020, according to Public Citizen, corporations donated more than $10.8 million to Georgia Republicans who are supporting the 26 voter suppression bills that have been introduced in the state's legislature this year. Corporations have also donated big to voter suppression advocates in Texas, Arizona, Virginia, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas.

"From coast to coast, politicians that Corporate America helped elect are pushing racist voter suppression laws," Rick Claypool, research director for Public Citizen's president's office and one of the authors of the new report, told Common Dreams.

"No matter how many PR statements Big Business puts out, its complicity with the anti-democratic forces that want to make voting harder is clear," Claypool added. "Corporations should keep their money out of our democracy—and Congress must put the people back in charge by swiftly passing the For The People Act."

According to the latest tally by the Brennan Center for Justice, legislators have introduced 361 bills with vote-restricting provisions in 47 states this year, and five have become law.

In the wake of the January 6 Capitol insurrection by a mob of Trump supporters, many large corporations vowed to temporarily suspend all political giving as they faced backlash for financially supporting Republican members of Congress who helped provoke the attack with brazen lies about the 2020 presidential election.

But Public Citizen argued Monday that such face-saving efforts—as well as belated disavowals of voter suppression measures—"will amount to a meaningless gesture if corporations continue to bankroll the bills' supporters with future campaign contributions."

"The days in which corporate America can fund politicians and then claim no responsibly for their actions may be coming to an end," the group said. "Corporations seeking to demonstrate their reverence for our democracy could best do so by ending their attempts to influence the outcomes of elections at the federal and state levels."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·


Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·


Grave Warnings as Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That Threatens 'Future of Voting Rights'

"Buckle up," implores one prominent legal scholar. "An extreme decision here could fundamentally alter the balance of power in setting election rules in the states and provide a path for great threats to elections."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Urged to Take Emergency Action After 'Disastrous' Climate Ruling by Supreme Court

"The catastrophic impact of this decision cannot be understated," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, but "we cannot accept defeat."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo