The CEOs of Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola strongly opposed Georgia’s recently passed voting law on Wednesday, both calling the law “unacceptable.”
On Wednesday morning, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a note to employees that the law is “unacceptable and does not align with Delta’s values.”
“Let me be clear and unequivocal, this legislation is unacceptable,” Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey said later today on CNBC.
In the week since Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed a vast package of electoral restrictions, activists threatened to boycott Delta and other Atlanta-based companies, claiming they had not done enough to prevent the law from being passed.
Delta’s statement, which the company shared with NBC News, is a strong repudiation of Georgian law – and similar efforts across the country.
“After having had the time to now fully understand everything that is in the bill, coupled with discussions with leaders and employees of the black community, it is evident that the bill includes provisions that will make it more difficult exercise for many under-represented voters, especially black voters. their constitutional right to elect their representatives. This is wrong, ”the memo reads.
Quincey said the company had opposed the bill from the start and lobbied against it.
“Our position remains the same: this legislation is wrong, it needs to be corrected, and we will continue to defend it both in private and now, even more clearly in public,” he said.
Dozens of black business leaders publicly urged companies to oppose voting restrictions in a public letter on Wednesday, The New York Times reported.
“It’s a call to action,” Ken Chenault, former CEO of American Express, said Wednesday on CNBC. “What we’ve heard from businesses are broad statements about their support for the franchise and against voter suppression. But now we ask, put those words into action. ‘to publicly and directly oppose any discriminatory legislation and any measures designed to limit America’s ability to vote. “
Bastian suggests that Delta could also get involved in future legislative battles over the vote.
“The whole rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there had been widespread electoral fraud in Georgia in the 2020 election,” Bastian wrote. “This is just not true. Unfortunately, this excuse is being used in states across the country trying to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights. So there is a lot of work to be done and plenty of other opportunities. to have an impact. “
Advocates began pressuring large Atlanta-based corporations long before the bill was passed. Several companies issued statements reaffirming their support for free and fair elections and the right to vote, but lawyers argued that the statements were insufficient to fight the proposed laws.
The CEOs of both companies have clearly lobbied state lawmakers for the bill.
Quincey was pressed to find out why he was only going public now, almost a week after the bill came into effect.
“The reality is that a lot of things are improved, done and done in private without having to take a public position. But in this case it didn’t work, clearly, so we are more forceful in our public position,” a- he told CNBC. .
Delta said they helped make the bill less repressive.
“Since the inception of the bill, Delta has joined with other major Atlanta companies to work closely with elected officials on both sides to try to remove some of the bill’s more egregious measures,” notes Bastian’s note. “We have succeeded in eliminating the more repressive tactics that some have proposed.”
While it’s unclear which provisions of the law Delta objected to, earlier versions of the bill would have significantly dampened early weekend voting, which the final version expanded.
Kemp pushed back Delta’s opposition in a statement shared Wednesday with NBC News.
“Today’s statement from Delta CEO Ed Bastian contrasts sharply with our conversations with the company, ignores the content of the new law and unfortunately continues to propagate the same bogus attacks repeated by partisan activists,” he said. he said, arguing that the bill expands access and strengthens electoral security.
“Mr Bastian is expected to compare Georgia’s voting laws – which include no-excuse postal voting, online voter registration, 17 days of early voting with two optional extra Sundays, and automatic voter registration during of obtaining a driver’s license – along with other states Delta Airlines operates in, ”Kemp said.