As the nation continues to somberly reflect on the one-year anniversary of the January 6th insurrection, it is important that we do not forget the many promises and statements that corporate America made in response to that fateful day. Hoping to gain favor with an understandably reeling public, companies repeatedly asserted “their commitment to improving our nation’s democracy”
The swift actions these companies took varied widely from promising to create a more robust screening system for potential political contributions to implementing outright internal bans on political spending altogether for the foreseeable future. However, it isn’t surprising that these many actions fell in direct contrast to the outward January 6th messaging of corporate America’s most popular lobbyist here in Washington: the US Chamber of Commerce.
While it is disappointing that most of corporate America has yet to publicly support any type of substantial democracy or voting rights reform, many companies haven’t even fully kept the promises they made just last year in the fallout after January 6th. For example, Boeing has already given $190,000 to the campaigns of politicians who objected to election certification, alongside UPS giving $167,000 and FedEx donating a still sizable $58,500 to those candidates.
And as we continue to ramp up our work in the incredibly important fight for our democracy to win passage of the transformative Freedom to Vote Act, we are also focused on highlighting blatant hypocrisy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s corporate membership. The public must no longer accept companies parroting pro-democracy talking points while also continuing their donations to the noxious U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Below are just a few of the “pro-democracy” statements made by companies associated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce made in the wake of January 6th:
“ We applaud all those who stood strong to thwart an appalling insurrection bent on blocking the peaceful transfer of power following a free and fair election. Freedom, democracy and rule of law are America’s bedrock and must never be usurped.”
“Now is a time for unity. We must respect the results of the U.S. presidential election and, as we have with every election, honor the decision of the voters and support a peaceful transition of power,”
““IBM condemns today’s unprecedented lawlessness and we call for it to end immediately. These actions have no place in our society, and they must stop so our system of democracy can work.”
“Boeing proudly serves a vital role with our U.S. government customer in defending democracy here, and around the world. The vote of the people and peaceful transition of government are core to our democracy.”
“UPS believes the democratic process is a fundamental and sacred cornerstone for America. Since our founding, our country has stood for free, fair and peaceful elections. The outcome of the recent elections is clear and a peaceful transition of power is necessary.”
Steve Callahan, spokesperson for Altria:
“Altria strongly condemns the violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol. January 6 was a dark day in American history, and we look forward to the peaceful transition of power that will occur on January 20.”
“As an American, as a colleague to tens of thousands of Johnson & Johnson employees in the country, and as a U.S. military veteran who served overseas to protect our democracy, I’m devastated by this assault on what our country has stood for since its founding: free, fair and peaceful elections.”
With all of these meaningful statements last year, it begs the question: What are all of these “pro-democracy” companies doing now?
Where are the public statements, actions, and support when it’s now time to push Congress to actually act on voting rights and shore up our elections safeguards for the future? How can a company like UPS be appalled at the actions that unfolded last January and still remain duty bound to keep the donations rolling in to the US Chamber of Commerce, a key lobbying body standing firmly in the way of progress when it comes to democracy reform? The Chamber has already advised members of the House and Senate to vote against the earlier For The People Act, mischaracterizing the various provisions in the bill.
Corporate America, is this really the company you want to keep in 2022?
Recently, Public Citizen, in coordination with Greenpeace, Change the Chamber, Accountable.US, and over 20 more organizations, sent a letter to members on the US Chamber of Commerce board demanding they use their influence in support of fair elections and people’s freedom to vote.
And as of today, zero have replied.
This disregard for the fragile moment this nation finds itself in is unacceptable. With the Freedom to Vote Act likely to return to a vote in the Senate soon, now is the time for corporate America to make its true stance known.
Specifically, we now need companies associated with the U.S. Chamber to:
- Join the many business leaders, corporations, and investors that have publicly endorsed the Freedom to Vote Act;
- Communicate their support to Members of Congress and the White House; and
- Change the U.S. Chamber’s position to support the Freedom to Vote Act.
If companies truly care about democracy, empty rhetoric is not enough.
It’s time for them to put their substantial resources and reach into action to support vital voting reforms now, and to ensure that the Chamber doesn’t impede further democracy reforms in the future.