At least 50 companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Patagonia, American Airlines and P. Terry’s, have come together to denounce voting restrictions in Texas.
The companies have formed a coalition known as Fair Elections Texas and plan to release the letter opposing the restrictions on Tuesday, according to Nate Ryan, CEO of Austin-based consulting firm Blue Sky Partners, who signed the letter. .
“It’s important for business leaders to understand that a functioning democracy is good for business. We have one, ”he told NBC News. “There was no real fraud in our last election, certainly nothing that would have influenced the outcome, so this whole battle that we are currently fighting is really about the health of our democracy as a whole.
Texas lawmakers are considering a series of electoral restrictions, including two major bills currently being drafted in the Legislature that would reduce early voting options, empower election observers, and add criminal penalties to parts of the process for voters and election officials. One bill, Senate Bill 7, was rewritten in the House last week and could be put to a vote this week; as it reads now, that would add criminal penalties to the electoral process.
The coalition letter does not denounce specific legislation, but Ryan said the time is right.
“The time is crucial for this statement to be made,” he said. “I know these bills would suppress voting more. “
Hundreds of major corporations have spoken out in recent weeks against voting restrictions, which are being advanced across the country, inspired by former President Donald Trump’s baseless allegations of voter fraud and the stolen election lie.
American Airlines spoke out last month, especially against the earlier version of SB 7, which removed early voting options and gave power to poll watchers. Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick responded angrily, saying the airline had not read the bill.
A person involved in the state’s efforts to organize businesses who was not authorized to speak to the press said Patrick’s statements made businesses anxious.
“I’ve literally heard that a company was like, we’re going to get out, but then we’re going to have to prepare for the punishment Dan Patrick and the legislature will give us,” they told NBC News.
Then, after that coalition began discussing how it would speak, Republican lawmakers proposed budget amendments that would have punished companies that spoke out against the proposed voting restrictions.
Business leaders called the amendments, which subsequently failed, “mafia-style management,” the person said.