These 25 rainbow flag-waiving corporations donated $13.5 million to anti-gay politicians since 2022
In 2023, conservative activists have advanced the theory that major corporations are pushing a radical, pro-LGBTQ agenda onto the country.
For example, Anheuser-Busch sent trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney a few beers, including one with her face on it, and paid her to post a 60-second video promoting a contest. Anheuser-Busch spends about $7 billion each year on marketing. This Mulvaney promotion was as a nominal expenditure to increase the brand's appeal to LGBTQ people in the United States, a community with more than $1 trillion in annual purchasing power.
But many on the right took the Mulvaney promotion as proof that Anheuser-Busch has gone "woke." Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), posted a video announcing that he was “going to throw out every single Bud Light we have in the fridge.” Pundits Charlie Kirk and Matt Walsh declared that they would “put Budweiser out of business.” The musician Kid Rock published a video of himself donning a MAGA hat and opening fire on three cases of Bud Light with a semi-automatic rifle. The escalating rhetoric has coincided with a surge of violent threats against LGBTQ people.
But while major corporations are continuing to spend token amounts on marketing to the LGBTQ community, a Popular Information investigation reveals the same companies are spending millions backing anti-LGBTQ politicians. The investigation found that 25 corporations have donated $13.5 million to anti-LGBTQ politicians since January 2022. Popular Information's analysis includes:
1. Money donated by corporate PACs to the campaigns of members of Congress that received a zero rating on the latest Congressional scorecard produced by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's most prominent LGBTQ rights organization.
2. Money donated by corporate PACs to the leadership PACs of members of Congress that received a zero rating on the latest Congressional scorecard produced by HRC.
3. Money donated by corporations and corporate PACs to state legislators who sponsored anti-LGBTQ legislation in Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.
4. Money donated by corporations and corporate PACs to the Governors who signed anti-LGBTQ legislation into law in those states.
5. Money donated by corporations to the primary 527 organizations that support anti-LGBTQ state legislators and governors: the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) and the Republican Governors Association (RGA).
The investigation found that Anheuser-Busch donated $227,108 to anti-gay politicians since January 2022, including the sponsors of anti-LGBTQ legislation in Texas and Florida and 29 members of Congress rated zero by HRC.
All 25 corporations included in Popular Information's analysis were highly rated by HRC's 2022 Corporate Equality Index (CEI). 20 of the 25 corporations received perfect scores (100) and none received a score below 85. Along with workplace policies, the Corporate Equality Index purports to measure corporations' "public commitment to the LGBTQ community." But HRC's methodology excludes political donations.
That could change. "In light of recent events, the corporate community must reject and speak out against anti-LGBTQ+ extremism going into Pride Month, and stand firm in their commitment to the LGBTQ+ community," HRC said in a statement last week. HRC suspended Anheuser-Busch's CEI score after the company responded to right-wing boycotts by releasing a statement that failed to defend Mulvaney or support the LGBTQ community.
Comcast has donated at least $1,046,000 to anti-LGBTQ politicians since last year
Comcast NBCUniversal claims it “celebrates Pride and LGBTQ+ changemakers, organizations, and entertainers all year long.” In a video posted to Twitter last week, the company described pride as ”Loud and Powerful” and “Quiet and Thoughtful.”
“Pride is many things. Pride is Universal,” the tweet read.
On its website, the TV giant touts that it partners with organizations “dedicated to uplifting the LGBTQ+ community.” Recently, it announced that it was hosting its “first-ever national Pride summit” for employees. Comcast is also one of the signatories of the HRC’s 2020 Business Statement on Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation, which states “their clear opposition to harmful legislation aimed at restricting the access of LGBTQ people in society.”
But since 2022, Comcast has donated at least $472,500 to the campaigns and leadership PACs of 78 members of Congress that have received a zero rating from HRC. It also donated $115,000 to state legislators in Florida, Tennessee, and Texas sponsoring anti-LGBTQ legislation.
This amount includes a $5,000 contribution to Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who called for an investigation into Bud Light’s partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney and demanded that the brand “sever its relationship” with Mulvaney.
The company also donated $5,000 to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R), who has signed at least seven anti-LGBTQ bills in 2023 alone. This includes a ban on public drag performances, and a ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth, among others.
Comcast has also contributed $300,000 to the RGA and $158,500 to the RSLC, both of which support anti-LGBTQ politicians in all 50 states.
Comcast did not respond to a request for comment.
AT&T has donated at least $1,396,650 to anti-LGBTQ legislators since last year
AT&T’s website states that it is “committed to standing behind the LBGTQ+ community” and that it “support[s] organizations and projects that strengthen the LGBTQ+ community.” In 2021, AT&T tweeted, “We can #TURNUPTHELOVE for LGBTQ+ youth together.”
In 2021, AT&T also signed a letter by HRC stating that the company opposes “bills being introduced in statehouses across the country that single out LGBTQ individuals - many specifically targeting transgender youth - for exclusion or differential treatment.”
Since 2022, however, AT&T has donated at least $1,396,650 to anti-LGBTQ state and federal lawmakers. This includes at least $775,400 to the campaigns and leadership PACs of 111 members of Congress who received a zero rating from HRC. AT&T also donated $285,000 to the RGA, $110,000 to the RSLC, and $226,250 to state legislators behind anti-LGBTQ legislation in Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.
This includes $12,500 to 11 representatives in Florida that sponsored legislation to expand Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, including $1,000 to Representative Adam Anderson (R), who introduced the bill. The legislation expands the law’s ban on classroom instruction on “sexual orientation on gender identity” through the eighth grade instead of the third grade.
AT&T also donated $1,500 to North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum (R). Since 2022, Burgum has signed multiple anti-LGBTQ bills into law, including HB 1254, which, according to the ACLU of North Dakota, would “prohibit doctors from providing life-saving gender-affirming care for transgender North Dakotans.”
AT&T did not respond to a request for comment.
Charter Communications has donated at least $1,167,000 to anti-LGBTQ legislators since last year
Last year, Charter Communications celebrated Pride Month by offering its customers a collection of LGBTQ-themed films. The company states that it is “committed to #LGBTQ acceptance & equality… so that everyone feels valued and empowered to bring their best ideas forward.”
Since 2022, however, Charter Communications has donated at least $1,167,000 to anti-LGBTQ state and federal lawmakers. This includes at least $332,500 to the campaigns and leadership PACs of 63 members of Congress who received a zero rating from HRC. Charter Communications also donated $205,000 to the RGA, $315,000 to the RSLC, and $314,500 to state legislators behind anti-LGBTQ legislation in Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
This includes $203,000 to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R). DeSantis signed the legislation to expand Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” into law on May 17. The same day, DeSantis also signed HB 1521 into law, which, according to HRC, “criminalizes transgender people for using the restroom that matches their gender identity.” The bill also “prohibits gender-inclusive restrooms and changing facilities in schools, public shelters, healthcare facilities, and jails.”
DeSantis has also been openly outspoken against companies that advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. He said that boycotting Bud Light after its partnership with Mulvaney was “righteous.” DeSantis pledged to never drink Bud Light again.
Charter Communications did not respond to a request for comment.
Home Depot has donated at least $784,200 to anti-LGBTQ legislators since 2022
Last June, Home Depot tweeted, “We celebrate our LGBTQ+ associates and customers this month and throughout the year. Respect for all people is core to who we are. We wish you a happy #Pride!”
Home Depot also announced last June that it was expanding its partnership with the HRC Foundation to “advance meaningful change.” In a statement about the partnership, the company said it “continues to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive company.”
Since 2022, however, Home Depot has donated at least $784,200 to anti-LGBTQ state and federal lawmakers, including at least $702,500 to the campaigns and leadership PACs of 75 members of Congress who received a zero rating from HRC. Home Depot also donated $450 to the RGA, $50,000 to the RSLC, and $31,250 to state legislators behind anti-LGBTQ legislation in North Carolina and Texas.
This includes $8,500 to five Texas lawmakers who sponsored SB 14. The legislation, which was signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) on June 2, would “ban gender affirming care for transgender youth.” Home Depot also donated $7,500 to Crenshaw.
Home Depot sent Popular Information the following statement: "The Home Depot signed onto the Human Rights Campaign’s Coalition years ago to pass Equality Act legislation, and in 2022 we expanded our partnership to support multiple initiatives that align with key commitments around advancing education for all, specifically within diverse communities. We have a long history of promoting and valuing diversity, and we believe that makes our business stronger. Our associate-funded PAC supports candidates on both sides of the aisle who champion pro-business, pro-retail positions that create jobs and economic growth."
UnitedHealth has donated at least $1,139,050 to anti-LGBTQ politicians since 2022
Earlier this year, the United Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the healthcare company, proclaimed it will invest $2 million dollars in grants to support the work of Rainbow Health, a nonprofit dedicated to the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ communities and health equity.
“We believe every person deserves the opportunity to live their healthiest life, and we are determined to do our part to break down the barriers to equitable health care, wherever they exist,” Dr. Margaret-Mary Wilson, executive vice president and chief medical officer of UnitedHealth Group, said. “This grant underscores our commitment to advancing health equity and improving health outcomes by increasing access to mental health care for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC youth in the Twin Cities.”
This month, the company commemorated the beginning of Pride by writing that “Pride Month is all about embracing your uniqueness and individuality.”
UnitedHealth Group has also received a perfect Corporate Equality Index rating from the HRC for several years in a row.
But since 2022, according to federal campaign finance reports, UnitedHealth Group has donated at least $255,000 to 47 politicians who received a zero rating from HRC, $750,450 to the RGA, and $50,000 to the RSLC. UnitedHealth Group has also donated $83,600 to anti-LGBTQ legislators in Florida, North Carolina, and Texas, with more than half of this amount going to DeSantis.
UnitedHealth Group did not respond to a request for comment.
Deloitte has donated at least $669,800 to anti-LGBTQ politicians since 2022
Deloitte believes that Pride Month is more than just a celebration–it’s also a “call to action for those LGBT+ communities still denied equal treatment, inclusion, and respect.” The accounting giant argues that we shouldn’t support LGBTQ+ communities only once a year. For Pride 2023, the company announced it will continue its 2022 #QueerAllYear campaign.
“When the confetti is swept up and flags put away - how do we keep the spotlight on helping LGBT+ friends, family, and colleagues feel seen, valued and included?” Deloitte wrote on its website. The firm also states that “Allyship isn’t just passive support, but part of our everyday actions - visibly and vocally supporting LGBT+ people inside and outside of Deloitte.”
Since 2022, however, Deloitte has donated at least $405,000 to the campaigns and leadership PACs of 46 members of Congress that have received a zero rating from HRC. Deloitte has also donated $250,000 to the RGA and $14,800 to politicians in Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas behind recent anti-LGBTQ legislation.
This includes $1,000 to Texas State Representative Dustin Burrows (R), who sponsored a bill that focused on drag shows. The latest version of the bill no longer directly mentions drag performances; however, advocates say that the bill features language that “could still ensnare these performers.” Last month, attorneys told The Dallas Morning News that “anything from bachelorette parties to LGBTQ pride parades could be caught up in the bill’s definition of criminal acts — even if no minors are actually around.”
Deloitte did not respond to a request for comment.
Other major corporations supporting anti-LGBTQ politicians
“We recognize that to make progress on the issues that matter to our customers and to our business, we must engage with officials who hold a range of views,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Popular Information. GM and Intel directed Popular Information to previous statements on their federal PAC policies. Wells Fargo declined to comment. The other corporations did not respond to a request for comment.