The corporations backing the Texas Republican Party
The Texas Republican Party is one of the largest and most influential state parties in the nation. But it is also among the most radical. Successful candidates nominated by the Texas GOP have implemented a near-total abortion ban, ordered investigations of the parents of trans youth, and filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
Over the weekend thousands of Texas Republicans descended on Houston, where the Texas GOP held its annual convention. During the gathering, the party produced its platform. The new platform makes clear that the Texas Republican Party intends to pursue an even more extreme agenda. Among the platform's declarations:
1. "Homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice."
2. "We reject the certified results of the 2020 Presidential election, and we hold that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States."
3. "We urge that the Voting Rights Act of 1965, codified and updated in 1973, be repealed and not reauthorized."
4. "[T]he federal government has impaired our right of local self-government… Texas retains the right to secede from the United States, and the Texas Legislature should be called upon to pass a referendum consistent thereto."
5. "Texas students should learn… life begins at fertilization."
6. "[A]ll gun control is a violation of the Second Amendment and our God given rights."
The platform also condemns Senator Cornyn and other Senate Republicans working with Democrats on a package of modest gun safety measures. Less than a month ago, 21 people, including 19 children, were murdered during a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
The vote on the platform still needs to be "tallied and certified," but it's just a formality. The delegates already rejected efforts to tone down the most controversial policy planks. And "party chairman James Wesolek said planks presented to delegates are generally accepted."
Further, the Texas GOP rejected an application from the Log Cabin Republicans of Texas, a group representing LGBTQ conservatives, to have a booth in the convention hall. It was a decision made by party leadership. "Texas Republican Party Chair Matt Rinaldi was the deciding vote denying the application," the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. "I think it’s inappropriate given the state of our nation right now for us to play sexual identity politics," Rinaldi said in defense of his vote.
While the Texas Republican Party embraces an exclusionary, extremist agenda, it enjoys support from decidedly mainstream corporations — including those that claim to champion LGBTQ rights.
Pepsi, for example, was listed as an official sponsor of the 2022 Texas Republican Party convention, according to signage on display at the event.
Popular Information contacted Pepsi about its sponsorship of the 2022 Texas GOP convention and asked if Pepsi planned on supporting the Texas GOP in the future. The company did not respond prior to publication.
After the publication of this article, Pepsi contacted Popular Information and said that “we are not sponsors of the 2022 Texas GOP convention” and “any reports you might have seen on social media are fake news.” Asked why Pepsi’s name appears on event signage, the Pepsi spokesperson said, “[w]e believe that the photo has been altered to include our name.” But Popular Information reviewed multiple photos of the sign, taken from different angles.
Presented with this additional evidence, Pepsi said that it believed either the photos were “altered,” or its name was “included erroneously.” Pepsi did not address its 2021 donation or whether it planned to support the Texas Republican Party in the future.
Meanwhile, Pepsi, through its Bubly brand of sparkling water, recently produced a short film "that showcases an LGBTQ+ nightlife space and the chosen families that find each other there." In announcing the film, PepsiCo stressed the importance of "safe spaces where people can come together as their authentic selves without the fear of being exposed to discrimination or harassment." The company says it "has supported the LGBTQ+ community 365 days a year."
In 2020, PepsiCo's CEO, Ramon Laguarta, stated that the company was working to "dismantle the systemic racial barriers that for generations have blocked social and economic progress for Black people in this country." Laguarta said he understood "the urgent need for racial and social justice in this nation, and I am committed to using my position as CEO to lead this change." Presumably, this does not include repealing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was passed to combat discrimination against Black voters at the polls.
Popular Information first reported on PepsiCo's donation after Texas imposed its draconian abortion ban. In January, PepsiCo defended the donation, saying that "PepsiCo has typically made donations supporting both the Democratic and Republican conventions in several states."
Chevron donates $30,000 to the Texas GOP, sponsors 2022 convention
Chevron was also a sponsor of the 2022 Texas Republican Party convention, appearing at the top center of event signage.
Chevron also donated $30,000 to the Texas GOP in March and April of 2020.
While the convention excluded the state’s largest conservative LGBTQ group and derided LGBTQ people as “abnormal,” Chevron touts its “alliance and support of the LGBTQ+ community.” It posted a five-minute video on YouTube promoting its support of LGBTQ employees.
Chevron did not respond to a request for comment.
Other corporations backing the Texas Republican Party
Other major corporations did not sponsor the 2022 convention but have supported the Texas GOP over the last two years.
Verizon: $15,000 to the Texas Republican Party
Verizon donated $15,000 to the Texas Republican Party on September 3, 2020.
The Texas GOP's new platform states: "We oppose all efforts to validate transgender identity." Verizon has publicly validated transgender identity, pitching its service as a way for trans people to "stay connected."
In August 2020, Verizon also tweeted that "racial justice" should be "the core, the bottom line, and the public face of corporate America."
Verizon did not respond to a request for comment.
Charter Communications: $55,000 to the Texas Republican Party
Charter Communications, which offers internet and cable TV service under the brand name Spectrum, has donated $55,000 to the Texas Republican Party since 2020, including a $20,000 donation on January 31, 2022.
On Twitter, however, Charter Communications celebrates LGBTQ people.
Charter Communications did not respond to a request for comment.
Anheuser-Busch: $15,000 to the Texas Republican Party
Anheuser-Busch donated $15,000 to the Texas Republican Party on April 7, 2020.
"Led by Bud Light, Anheuser-Busch has a strong track record of industry leadership in supporting the LGBTQ+ community," the company states on its corporate website. It has promoted a new partnership with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce on Twitter.
Anheuser-Busch also claims to have "a strong foundation when it comes to addressing issues of inequality and fighting systemic racism by promoting fundamental civil rights." The Voting Rights Act of 1965, which the Texas Republican Party wants to repeal, is a core law that protects fundamental civil rights.
Anheuser-Busch did not respond to a request for comment.
Other corporations that have supported the Texas Republican Party since 2020 include Altria ($90,000) Juul Labs ($10,000), Microsoft ($5,000), and NuStar Logistics ($100,000). None of these companies responded to a request for comment.
UPDATE (7:34 AM): This piece was updated to reflect Pepsi’s claim that it did not sponsor the 2022 Texas Republican Convention.