More than 100 business leaders, including the chief executives of some of the country’s most prominent businesses, met over the weekend to discuss how to respond to legislative proposals on voting that they believe are too restrictive.
The meeting, building on the dozens of businesses that publicly opposed a Georgia law that was enacted last month, was conducted virtually, for the purpose of gathering leaders to “discuss critical information regarding voting law proposals and to explore non-partisan actions business leaders could take to defend voting rights and our democracy,” according to the Coalition of Inclusive Capitalism, which arranged the call.
The coalition describes itself as a global nonprofit that aims to make capitalism “inclusive and its benefits more widely and equitably shared.”
Company executives on the call “indicated readiness to act individually and collectively to shore up American democracy and ensure Americans have access to a world-class voting system” and “indicated they will re-evaluate donations to candidates supporting bills that restrict voting rights and many would reconsider investments in states which act upon such proposals,” the coalition stated.
The coalition, which didn’t release the names of the attendees, says such meetings foster “candid, off-the-record exchanges.” It also said the business leaders oppose more than 350 voting laws being introduced in 47 states, describing them as “discriminatory and designed to limit Americans’ ability to vote.”
Lynn Forester de Rothschild, founder and chair of the coalition, didn’t immediately respond to a request to provide examples of the laws in question.
The Georgia law was mischaracterized by a U.S. senator, President Joe Biden, and a number of critics. False claims included saying the law reduced weekend voting hours and eliminated no-excuse absentee voting in the state.
The coalition said that leaders largely support legislation that increases access to voting and oppose laws that limit “voting rights.”
“It is our patriotic duty to protect the most vital of rights for all Americans. This is an essential act of inclusive capitalism because without a thriving democracy we cannot have a thriving and secure capitalism,” de Rothschild said in a statement. “I applaud all the CEOs who use the power of their corporations for the common good.”
News outlets reported that attendees of the call included Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck, as well as executives from PepsiCo, PayPal, and the T. Rowe Price Group. But a spokesperson for the latter told The Epoch Times that it wasn’t represented at the meeting.
“As many are aware, conversations continue to take place about the role business could take in the evolving voter rights and voter access debate. Given the importance of these issues, T. Rowe Price is considering whether its participation might be appropriate. Contrary to what has been reported, we did not participate in a group meeting with other organizations during the weekend and cannot comment on what might have taken place at it,” the spokesperson wrote via email.
Other companies that reportedly participated in the meeting didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The call took place several days after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told companies to “stay out of politics” and companies that decried Georgia’s bill faced backlash for wading into the political fray.
McConnell the following day clarified his statement, telling reporters: “I didn’t say that very artfully yesterday. They’re certainly entitled to be involved in politics. They are.”
“My principal complaint is they didn’t read the darn bill. The president of the United States called the bill a Jim Crow exercise to suppress voter turnout—presumably based on race because that’s what the Jim Crow allegation is,” he added, referring to the Georgia law.
Biden called the law “un-American” and alleged it was meant to “deny people the right to vote.”
Former President Donald Trump recently urged supporters to boycott companies that issued statements or took punitive action against Georgia, including Major League Baseball, which moved its All-Star Game from the state to Colorado.
“Boycott baseball and all of the woke companies that are interfering with Free and Fair Elections,” he wrote in a statement. “Are you listening Coke, Delta, and all!”