September 24, 2023

Amazon and Google fund anti-abortion lawmakers through complex shell game

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Photo: Chris Seward/AP

As North Carolina’s 12-week abortion ban goes into effect on July 1, an analysis by the nonprofit Center for Political Accountability (CPA) shows that several major corporations have donated large amounts of money to a Republican political organization, which in turn funded groups to elect anti-abortion state legislators.

The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) received tens of thousands of dollars each last year from companies including Comcast, Intuit, Wells Fargo, Amazon, Bank of America and Google, according to the CPA’s analysis of IRS filings. The contributions were made in the months after Politico published a leaked Supreme Court ruling that said the court would end the right to access abortion nationwide.

Related: North Carolina bans abortion after 12 weeks, overriding Democratic governor’s veto

Google contributed $45,000 to the RSLC after the draft decision leaked, according to the CPA’s review of its tax returns. Others contributed even more in the months following the leak, including Amazon ($50,000), Intuit ($100,000), and Comcast ($147,000).

Google, Amazon, Comcast, Wells Fargo and Bank of America did not respond to requests for comment. An Intuit spokesperson pointed out that the company also donates to democratic political organizations and that “our financial support does not mean that we fully endorse every point of view of any individual policy maker or organization.

“Intuit is impartial and works with policymakers and leaders from both sides of the aisle to advocate for our customers,” an Intuit spokesperson said in a statement. “We believe engagement with policymakers is essential to a robust democracy, and giving politically is just one of the many ways Intuit is committed on behalf of its customers, employees and the communities it serves.”

While these companies have not given these huge amounts of money directly to North Carolina’s anti-abortion legislators, the CPA’s analysis is a case study of how corporate contributions to organizations like the RSLC can ultimately be funneled toward anti-abortion causes. When Republican state lawmakers successfully overturned a Democratic governor’s veto earlier this month to pass the upcoming abortion ban, nine of the lawmakers who voted to overturn the veto had received campaign contributions from a group with ties to the RSLC.

The RSLC, which works to elect Republican legislators and promote right-wing policies at the state level, is at the top of a chain of spending and donations that ultimately linked to right-wing candidates in North Carolina. This kind of spending, which involves funneling money through various outside groups of larger organizations, is a common part of modern political campaign funding.

Companies need to know where their money ends up

Bruce Freed of the Center for Political Accountability

In this case, between June and November last year, the RSLC gave $5 million to the political organization Good Government Coalition, which in turn gave $6.45 million to the right-wing political group Citizens for a Better North Carolina. Finally, that organization gave $1 million in independent spending to support nine anti-abortion state legislators who later voted to overturn the governor’s veto on the abortion bill.

These donations are evidence that companies are proving complicit in the broader movement to restrict abortion rights, the nonprofit organization CPA argues, while many of these companies publicly tout the empowerment of women and workers’ access to health care.

“Companies need to know where their money is going,” said Bruce Freed, the president of the CPA. “This should be a lesson — a lesson they should have taken a while ago, but is frankly now being driven home with what happened in North Carolina.”

Several of the companies, including Intuit and Bank of America, issued statements last year offering to cover health care costs for employees who had to travel abroad for medical procedures, in some cases explicitly citing abortion as an example. . Google sent an email to employees acknowledging that Roe v Wade had been overturned and informing them of options for relocating to Google offices in several states.

“Equality is extremely important to us as a company, and we share our concerns about the impact this ruling will have on people’s health, lives and careers,” the email read.

The companies that have donated to the RSLC are also major donors to Democratic political groups, and tech giants such as Google and Amazon spend millions more broadly each year on lobbying.

The RSLC, whose board members include former lawmakers, governors and White House advisers like Karl Rove, boasts on its website that it spent more than $45 million supporting Republican candidates during the 2021 and 2022 election cycle.

In addition to North Carolina’s abortion ban, South Carolina also passed a law last week that criminalizes most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy — usually a period before people know they’re pregnant. A state judge temporarily overturned the ban within hours of Governor Henry McMaster signing it into law, and it will now be reviewed by the state’s Supreme Court.

North Carolina’s 12-week abortion ban is expected to go into effect July 1, drastically limiting access to abortion as many other southern states have passed near total bans.

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