On May 19, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed legislation banning virtually all abortions in Texas and creating a system of vigilante justice to enforce the ban.
The new law, which went into effect on September 1, bans all abortions after four to six weeks of pregnancy — before many women even know they are pregnant. The ban is enforced by private citizens who can sue people who help women obtain an abortion and collect a bounty of $10,000 or more.
The Supreme Court, while not issuing a final ruling on the Texas law, has allowed it to remain in effect. As a result, some women with unwanted pregnancies are "being forced to carry pregnancies to term." Others with resources are traveling long distances — and spending hundreds or thousands of dollars — to obtain an abortion in neighboring states. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the average distance a woman in Texas must travel to obtain an abortion has increased from 17 to 247 miles each way. Those forced to make the trek "have included rape victims" since the law does not include exemptions for rape or incest.
Wait times for clinics in neighboring states have increased dramatically and now commonly exceed two weeks. Abortion providers "as far away as New York, Washington, Michigan, Georgia, and Florida" have reported seeing women traveling from Texas. A quarter of the patients in Mississippi's sole clinic are from Texas.
The limited options for Texas women could be further foreclosed as anti-abortion legislators seek to impose copycat laws in other states. Bills mimicking Texas' approach have already been introduced in Arkansas, Arizona, Missouri, Alabama, Ohio, South Dakota, and Florida.
In September, Popular Information revealed the top corporate donors to the sponsors of Texas' abortion ban. At the time, comprehensive campaign finance data was only available through June 30, 2021. That means nearly all of these donations occurred before the ban was signed into law.
This gave corporations plausible deniability about the impact of their donations. Yes, they had given money to the sponsors of Texas' abortion ban. But now that they knew what these politicians had done, they may not donate to them in the future. For example, in September, Popular Information reported that CVS Health donated $72,500 to the sponsors of Texas' abortion bill since 2018. In a statement, CVS Health said that "[p]ast political contributions are by no means… an indication of where we’ll direct our future support."
Last week, however, the Texas Ethics Commission posted filings covering the period from July 1 to December 31, 2021. All of these donations were made after Abbott signed the bill into law. A Popular Information analysis reveals that numerous corporations — including several that publicly profess a commitment to women's rights — donated to the politicians and political committees that played a central role in enacting Texas' abortion ban.
AT&T donated $80,000 to key proponents of Texas' abortion ban
In AT&T's 2020 Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Report, CEO John Stankey said one of the company's "core values" was "gender equity and the empowerment of women."
On August 26, AT&T celebrated "Women's Equality Day," saying it was "a day to reflect on the many challenges women in our society still face to achieve equity." The company said that it believed "empowered women are key to the success of their communities."
AT&T donated $50,000 directly from its corporate treasury to the Texas Senate Republican Caucus. All 18 Republican members of the Texas Senate voted in favor of Texas' abortion ban. If just four had opposed, the bill would not have become law. But AT&T is donating substantial funds to ensure that Republicans maintain or expand their control of the Texas Senate.
AT&T is the single largest donor in the period to the Texas Senate Republican Caucus. (The next highest donation, by PhARMA, was $20,000.) AT&T represented almost one-third of the caucus' total fundraising for the period.
On December 14, 2021, AT&T's PAC donated $30,000 to House Speaker Dade Phelan (R), who marshaled Texas' abortion ban through the House.
The head of AT&T's legislative strategy is Ed Gillespie, the former chair of the Republican National Committee. When Gillespie ran for Governor of Virginia in 2017 he said he "would like to see abortion be banned.”
In response to a request for comment, an AT&T spokesperson sent the following statement:
AT&T has never taken a position on abortion and the Texas legislation was no exception. AT&T did not endorse nor support passage of Senate Bill 8 in the Texas legislature. AT&T’s employee political action committees have never based contribution decisions on a legislator’s positions on the issue of abortion, and employee PAC contributions to Texas legislators went to both opponents and supporters of Senate Bill 8. Our employee PACs contribute to policymakers in both major parties and will not agree with recipients on every issue.
The spokesperson also noted that, under Texas law, the $50,000 donation from AT&T's corporate treasury to the Texas Senate Republicans "is strictly limited to being used to help defray administrative and overhead costs of the organization and may not be used for political purposes."
PepsiCo donates $15,000 to the Texas GOP
PepsiCo publicly touts its commitment to "empowering women in the workplace, marketplace and community."
One thing you won't hear about on PepsiCo's Twitter feed is its $15,000 donation to the Texas GOP on August 5, 2021.
The money will support the reelection of all the politicians responsible for the law, including Republicans in the state legislature, Governor Abbott, and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick (R).
After this article was originally published, PepsiCo sent Popular Information the following statement:
During presidential election years, PepsiCo has typically made donations supporting both the Democratic and Republican conventions in several states. In the summer of 2020, we donated to both the Democratic and Republican parties in Texas to support those state conventions. The check to the Republican party was not processed until August 2021. As a result, the donation was recorded then and disclosed in a recent filing.
PepsiCo told Popular Information that, sometime in 2021, the check was reissued because it had expired. The company declined to specify the date the original check was sent or the date it was reissued.
At any time prior to August 5, 2021, PepsiCo could have canceled the check. It chose not to do so. The company also declined to state whether it would donate to the Texas Republican Party in the future.
Walmart donates $10,000 to Texas Republicans responsible for abortion ban
Walmart touts its "efforts to advance women associates and empower women." The company says it is "committed to providing opportunities for women inside and outside of Walmart to grow and achieve their goals while creating a more inclusive and innovative workplace, resilient supply chain and thriving communities."
On Twitter, the company declared that "[e]mpowering women creates shared value: it’s good for society, and it’s good for business."
But after Texas imposed a law stripping reproductive rights from millions of Texas women, including tens of thousands of Walmart associates in Texas, the company did not speak out against it. Instead, in December, Walmart donated $5,000 to Phelan and $5,000 to Patrick, who also serves as president of the Texas Senate.
Walmart did not respond to Popular Information's request for comment.
Other major corporate donations to Texas Republicans after the enactment of abortion ban
The latest filings with the Texas Ethics Commission also revealed several other major corporate donations to Texas Republicans after the abortion ban was enacted in May 2021:
Ford donated $5,000 to Phelan on December 5, 2021
Zillow donated $5,000 to the Texas Senate Republican Caucus on December 28, 2021
Allstate donated $3,000 to Phelan on October 20, 2021
Exelon donated $10,000 to Phelan on October 27, 2021, and $10,000 to the Texas House Republican Caucus on November 30, 2021
Koch Industries donated $10,000 to Phelan on December 5, 2021, and $5,000 to Patrick on December 9, 2021.
USAA donated $20,000 to Patrick on October 10, 2021, and $2,500 to the Texas House Republican Caucus on December 31, 2021.
United HealthCare donated $5,000 to the Texas House Republican Caucus on November 30, 2021
UPS donate $7,500 to the Texas House Republican Caucus on December 31, 2021
Several dozen other companies — including Netflix, Yelp, and Lyft — have signed a statement opposing Texas' abortion ban. "Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence, and economic stability of our workers and customers," the companies said.
UPDATE (1/25): This article has been updated with a statement from PepsiCo.
“The spokesperson also noted that, under Texas law, the $50,000 donation from AT&T's corporate treasury to the Texas Senate Republicans "is strictly limited to being used to help defray administrative and overhead costs of the organization and may not be used for political purposes."“ Oh please! All that means is their donation frees up money acquired elsewhere that can now be redirected to political purposes instead of covering the admin & overhead costs. AT&T’s spin is clearly BS as is every other corporate donor to these misogynistic asshats.
Side question that I’ve been wondering regarding this bounty, how is it being funded and who pays it out? Did Texas create a budget, a department to administer & investigate the bounty claims and fund it with state taxpayer monies? Was the money redirected from another area’s budget? And a further question: have there been any claims since the law went into effect? Have any of those claims resulted in payouts? What due diligence are those tasked with paying out this bounty doing to ensure the claims are valid?
So, again, great reporting, but what do WE do? I have United Health Care as my Health Insurance provider, can't change it. As long as there are ignorant people who "believe" the Republican Laws are what they want, we have to endure the disgusting hypocrisy. It's always an assault on the poor and that won't change. The Rape victim who has the child will then be disparaged for having an out of wedlock baby and going on Social Services. Unless the general public gets a first hand taste of the disgusting policies, nothing-ever-changes! In fact it gets worse.