Hollywood studios bankrolled politicians behind abortion bans in Georgia and Louisiana

After Georgia passed new legislation banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, major Hollywood studios have publicly suggested they may stop production in the state if the courts uphold the law. They are creating a public image as opponents of the bill and champions of women's rights.

Georgia is a hub for TV and movie production because of the state's generous tax credits. In recent years, Georgia has served as a location for blockbuster movies (Avengers: Endgame, Black Panther, Hunger Games) and popular TV shows (The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, Queer Eye).

But these same studios have bankrolled the politicians most responsible for the abortion ban in Georgia. The studios have also financially supported politicians responsible for a nearly identical abortion ban in Louisiana, another hub for TV and movie production, that was signed into law last Friday.

Getting elected to public office -- and staying there -- is hard. The reality is that obtaining or retaining political power takes a lot of money. That's why most politicians spend so much time fundraising. The support of Hollywood studios helped politicians with hardline anti-abortion views in these states obtain power and use it to impose bans.

It's not that the studios themselves actively support draconian restrictions on abortion. It's that their views on women's rights were subordinated to their desire for lucrative tax breaks. If the studios want to be seen as supporters of reproductive freedom, they need to grapple with the impact of their political donations in Georgia, Louisiana, and around the country.    

NBCUniversal/Comcast: $130,050 in Georgia and Louisiana

NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast, suggested it would pull out of Georgia if the state's abortion ban is upheld by the courts, saying the ban would "strongly impact our decision-making on where we produce our content in the future."

Comcast donated over $130,000 to the politicians in Georgia and Louisiana most responsible for the bans, including large donations to the umbrella committees for the Georgia House Republicans, Georgia Senate Republicans and the Georgia Republican Party. Comcast also made large contributions to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D), who signed an abortion ban into law last week.

$40,500 to the Georgia House Republican Trust

$25,000 to the Georgia Republican Party

$20,000 to the Georgia Republican Senatorial Committee

$9,200 to Georgia House Speaker David Ralston

$12,000 to Georgia Senate Majority Leader Casey Cagel

$13,100 to Georgia Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer

$3,000 to Louisiana Senate President John Alario Jr.

$2,250 to Louisiana House Speaker Taylor Barras

$10,000 to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards

Sony: $12,500 in Georgia and Louisiana

Sony said it will "monitor" the legal challenges to Georgia's abortion ban "in close consultation with our filmmakers and television showrunners" and it would be a factor "as we consider our future production options."

The company made substantial donations to the Georgia House Republicans and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.

$5,000 to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards

$7,500 to the Georgia House Republican Trust

Warner Bros: $10,500 in Georgia

"We will watch the situation closely and if the new law holds we will reconsider Georgia as the home to any new productions. As is always the case, we will work closely with our production partners and talent to determine how and where to shoot any given project," Warner Brothers said.

The studio donated over $10,000 to Georgia House Republicans.

$10,500 to the Georgia House Republican Trust

MPAA: $10,000 in Georgia and Louisiana

The MPAA is the lobbying arm for all the major Hollywood studios. It does not engage in a large volume of direct political giving but made substantial donations to the politicians most responsible for the bans in Georgia and Lousiana.

$2,500 to the Georgia House Republican Trust

$2,500 to Georgia House Speaker David Ralston

$5,000 to Lousiana Governor John Bel Edwards

Disney: $10,000 in Georgia and Louisiana

One of the strongest statements on Georgia's abortion ban was by Disney CEO Bob Iger.

I think many people who work for us will not want to work [in Georgia], and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard. Right now we are watching it very carefully...I don’t see how it’s practical for us to continue to shoot there [if the law takes effect].

The company supported the politicians behind the bans in Georgia and Louisiana.

$5,000 to the Georgia House Republican Trust

$2,500 to Georgia House Speaker David Ralston

$2,500 to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards

CBS: $7,500 in Georgia and Louisiana

CBS said any state that passes an abortion ban might be ruled out for future production.

Creative voices across our industry have expressed strong concern about the recently signed bill in Georgia. The ability to attract the best talent is the first step in producing great entertainment content and is always an important consideration in where we film any series...If the law takes effect in Georgia or elsewhere, these may not be viable locations for our future production.

But the company did not rule out substantial donations to supporters of abortion bans in Georgia and Louisiana.

$5,000 to the Georgia House Republican Trust

$2,500 to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards

I used GetAnte, a service which aggregates state and federal campaign finance data, to conduct some of the research in this report.


UPDATE: Netflix CEO responds to Popular Information's report

Last week, Popular Information reported that while Netflix threatened to end production in Georgia, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had donated $143,000 to dozens of Missouri politicians that recently passed a similar abortion ban.

Through a spokesperson, Reed Hastings responded. He defended his donations to 73 Missouri Republicans who voted for the abortion ban. The spokesperson told Variety that the donations were intended as support for a charter school bill.

Reed’s private support of educational causes is well known and these personal donations stem directly from that. All of these personal donations from Reed, on both sides of the aisle, were made in support of a specific piece of legislation aimed at improving the availability and quality of charter schools in Missouri.

The bill Hastings claims he intended to support never received a vote.

There was nothing about Reed’s contributions that targeted them toward “educational causes.” His contributions help these legislators stay in power and advance their entire agenda, which includes the abortion ban. Reed even donated $1,000 to Missouri Representative Nick Schroer, the sponsor of Missouri’s abortion ban.

It's also not clear if educational causes were the sole motivation for Hastings' extensive donations. CNN reports that Netflix hired a lobbyist in Missouri to advocate for new tax credits for TV and movie production.


UPDATE: Trump MAGA hat scam continues on Facebook

Last Tuesday, Popular Information reported on a simple scam that the Trump campaign is running on Facebook. The campaign is telling supporters that it must enter by midnight to have a chance at winning the 1,000,000th MAGA hat signed by Trump. The next day, it runs the same ad.

So far the Trump campaign has claimed the deadline to enter this contest was midnight on May 23, May 24, May 25, May 27, May 28, May 29, May 30, May 31, and June 1.

Facebook, which supposedly prohibits false and misleading advertising, has not responded to multiple requests for comment.


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