Discover more from Popular Information
How will Tommy Tuberville's corporate backers respond to his racist diatribe?
On Saturday, Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) appeared at a rally in Minden, Nevada, to support the Republican nominee for Senate, Adam Laxit. During his speech at the event, which also featured Donald Trump, Tuberville unleashed a racist diatribe against Black Americans. Tuberville said that reparations, which would provide benefits to Black descendants of slaves, would only benefit criminals.
Some people say, well, [Democrats are] soft on crime. No, they’re not soft on crime. They’re pro-crime. They want crime. They want crime because they want to take over what you got. They want to control what you have. They want reparation because they think the people that do the crime are owed that! Bullshit!
The crowd, full of people wearing Trump hats and other MAGA paraphernalia, responded by erupting in applause.
The NAACP, one of the nation's most prominent civil rights organizations, had a decidedly different reaction. "Senator Tuberville's comments are flat out racist, ignorant, and utterly sickening," NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement released Monday. "His words promote a centuries-old lie about Black people that throughout history has resulted in the most dangerous policies and violent attacks on our community."
CNN anchor Abby Phillip, agreed, calling Tuberville's comments "straight-up racism from a sitting United States senator." The USA Today story about Tuberville's remarks is headlined "GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville promotes racist narrative about Black people, crime at Trump rally."
Congressman Kweisi Mfume (D-MD), himself a former president of the NAACP, called Tuberville's statement "the most vicious, vile, repugnant, parochial, racist thing I’ve heard in a long, long time." Mfume said that Tuberville had revealed himself as a bigot and called on "every elected official on both sides of the aisle" to condemn his remarks.
That did not happen. Tuberville and nearly all Republicans ignored media requests about his racist remarks. One Republican who did comment, Congressman Don Bacon (R-NE) insisted that Tuberville's remarks were not racist and advised Tuberville to make the same point with "more polite" language:
I'm not going to say he's being racist. But I wouldn't use that language, be more polite. But the fact is we can't ignore we have a 40-50% violent crime increase. It's because Democrat politicians and prosecutors are putting violent criminals back on the street early. And it's unacceptable.
Bacon's claim of a "40-50% violent crime increase" is not only irrelevant but also false. According to the latest FBI data, violent crime in the United States fell in 2021.
Tuberville was elected to the U.S. Senate based on the notoriety he gained as a college football coach in Alabama. As journalist Jemele Hill noted, Tuberville owes his success — and the millions of dollars he earned as a coach — largely to the unpaid labor of young black men. Karlos Dansby, an All-American linebacker for Tuberville at Auburn, called Tuberville’s comments “unnecessary, dead wrong, [and] ugly.”
Will Jeff Bezos' space company continue to back Tommy Tuberville?
Jeff Bezos, one of the world's wealthiest men, presents himself as a champion of racial justice. In May 2020, when Bezos was still CEO of Amazon, the company tweeted that it "stood in solidarity with the Black community… in the fights against systemic racism and injustice."
Bezos posted a message he got from a customer complaining about Amazon's support for the Black Lives Matter movement, calling it "sickening." Bezos said that he was "happy to lose" customers who harbor "hate." Bezos' space company, Blue Origin, also bemoaned the "institutional and individual racism that has long plagued our country."
In July 2021, Bezos stepped down as CEO of Amazon. He said his decision was motivated, in part, by his desire to focus more time on Blue Origin.
Although Tuberville's term last through 2026, Blue Origin's PAC has donated $6000 over the last two years to support Tuberville's reelection and his leadership PAC. Popular Information contacted Blue Origin and asked if, in light of Tuberville's racist remarks, it would continue to financially support his campaign. Blue Origin did not respond.
Tommy Tuberville's other corporate backers
On November 2, 2018, Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), then a candidate, said she would be willing to attend a lynching. "If [cattle rancher Colin Hutchinson] invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row," Hyde-Smith said to a small crowd.
Leidos, a defense contractor, had donated $10,000 to Hyde-Smith's campaign. In response to her comments, Leidos called her remarks “offensive and an affront to everything we stand for as a company.” The company said it would not have donated to Hyde-Smith if it had known about the comments.
Leidos' PAC has donated $4,500 this cycle to support Tuberville's reelection campaign and leadership PAC. The company did not respond to a request for comment on its donations to Tuberville.
Another backer of Tuberville's reelection is PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which donated $1,000. In 2020, PwC US Chair Tim Ryan published an open letter saying he was "deeply frustrated by the racism that still exists in this country." Ryan said that while he was "not a member of the Black community, this issue is still personal to me." Ryan pledged to "use my privilege to be a part of the solution and take action—to help dismantle the racism and injustice that has become so pervasive in our society." PwC did not respond to a request for comment.
A representative from BAE Systems, another defense contractor, participated in a 2021 TED podcast with Adam Grant about the company's commitment to "racial equality" and combating racism. BAE Systems donated $3,000 to Tuberville in 2022. “We would refer you to our public filings and have no further comment,” a spokesperson for BAE Systems told Popular Information.
Other corporate contributors to Tuberville's campaign and leadership PAC since 2021 include Airbus ($2500), Alabama Power ($15,000), Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama ($5000), General Dynamics ($5000), Home Depot ($5000), Lockheed Martin ($5000), Merck ($2500), Pfizer ($2500), Regions Financial ($4000), Sanofi ($1000), Tysons Food ($5000), UPS ($10,000).