These companies are publicly embracing Black Lives Matter. Will they continue to bankroll Tom Cotton?
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
Several companies that have publicly embraced the Black Lives Matter movement are among the largest corporate contributors to Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR).
In a column published last Wednesday, Cotton called for a military occupation of U.S. cities where people are protesting the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and other innocent Black Americans. Only an "overwhelming show of force," Cotton argued, can clear the streets and "disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers."
On Twitter, Cotton was even more explicit, calling for the military to give "no quarter" to rioters and other lawbreakers. The term "no quarter" is a military term that indicates people should be killed, not arrested. It is considered a war crime.
Cotton's position was condemned by the civil rights community, New York Times staffers, and even Trump's former Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis.
Cotton has positioned himself to the right of Trump on criminal justice issues. He was one of a handful of Senators to oppose the First Step Act, a modest piece of bipartisan legislation aimed at narrowing racial disparities in federal sentencing. Darryl Scott, one of Trump's few Black supporters, said Cotton's opposition was motivated by "racial or racist fears." The United States has the world's largest — and disproportionately Black — prison population. But Cotton argues America has an "under-incarceration problem."
Time and again, Cotton has shown little regard for Black Americans. He has a 6% rating from the NAACP. And yet, some of the corporations embracing the Black Lives Matter protests in U.S. cities have donated tens of thousands of dollars to Cotton's campaigns.
"The events of the last few days underscore the violence and racism faced by black people in America today," AT&T said in a May 31 tweet. "At AT&T we stand for equality and embrace freedom."
"I am encouraged by all the rallies, all the protests, around the country...Black people, white people, gay people, straight people, young and old," AT&T's Lead Public Relations Manager, Charles Bassett, said in a video published to the company's Facebook page on Friday. These are the same people that Cotton wants to "disperse" by deploying "an overwhelming display of force" in American cities.
But AT&T has donated $21,000 to Cotton through its corporate PAC, making it one of the top five corporate contributors to Cotton's campaigns. AT&T CEO Randall Stevenson has not personally contributed to Cotton's campaign, but Stevenson did send a $5000 check to the National Republican Senatorial Committee on March 13 — money that will benefit Cotton and other Republican candidates.
Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, the nation's largest online racial justice organization, told Popular Information that companies cannot claim to support Black Lives Matter and continue to back politicians like Tom Cotton. "This is an inflection point where the sides are becoming more and more clear — you can’t say Black Lives Matter or get credit for supporting the movement and give your dollars and support to political leaders who unabashedly advance policies, people and practices that will kill us," Robinson said.
Popular Information reached out to AT&T and asked, in light of its stated commitment to racial justice, if it would continue to financially support Cotton in the future. A company spokesperson sent a lengthy statement that did not directly answer the question.
"Our company and our employees take very seriously the issues surrounding peaceful assembly, law enforcement and policies to ensure that Black Americans are treated equally under the law and no longer subject to repeated instances of police brutality. We will actively engage policymakers in support of needed reforms, and our employee PACs will weigh the positions candidates take on these issues in making decisions about future financial support," the AT&T spokesperson told Popular Information.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers: $22,500 in contributions to Tom Cotton
Accounting giant PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) promoted its support for the Black Lives Matter movement, tweeting a black square on June 2.
But PwC, through its corporate PAC, has donated $22,500 to Cotton, making it the third-largest corporate contributor to Cotton's campaigns. Laura Cox Kaplan, who led PwC's government affairs department for more than a decade, personally donated $4000 to Cotton's campaign.
Popular Information reached out to PwC and asked, in light of its stated support for the Black Lives Matter movement, if it would continue to financially support Cotton in the future. The company did not rule it out.
"PwC stands against racism in the workplace, in our communities and in our country. PwC’s Political Action Committee reviews its political contributions on an on-going basis and will continue to do so in light of the recent significant events that have transpired," a PwC spokesperson told Popular Information.
Walmart: $18,500 in contributions to Tom Cotton
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a national TV interview that the business community has an obligation to combat racial inequality and create "lasting change." He acknowledged that Walmart is involved in systems that "collectively, cause inequities." He says he's committed to advocating policy changes, and reforming his own company, to tackle racism.
Walmart, however, is influencing the political system by financially supporting Tom Cotton. The company, through its corporate PAC, has donated $18,500 to Cotton, making Walmart Cotton's eighth-largest corporate supporter.
Popular Information reached out to Walmart and asked, in light of its commitment to making "lasting change," if it would continue to financially support Cotton in the future. The company did not respond.
Bank of America: $15,000 in contributions to Tom Cotton
Bank of America says it has a "true sense of urgency" to address "the racial injustices we have seen in the communities where we work and live."
Bank of America, through its corporate PAC, has donated $15,000 to Cotton, making the bank the tenth largest contributor to Cotton's campaigns.
Popular Information reached out to Bank of America and asked, in light of its urgency to address racial injustices, if it would continue to financially support Cotton in the future. The company did not respond.
Wells Fargo: $15,000 in contributions to Tom Cotton
Wells Fargo has publicly announced that, in the wake of the murders of innocent Black people, it will "do all we can to support our diverse communities." The company, according to its tweet, joins "with our employees and our communities in making a substantive change to address racial inequality and injustice."
In a message to employees, CEO Charlie Scharf wrote that as "a white man, as much as I can try to understand what others are feeling, I know that I cannot really appreciate and understand what people of color experience and the impacts of discriminatory behavior others must live with."
Wells Fargo, through its corporate PAC, has donated $15,000 to Cotton, making the bank the tenth largest contributor to Cotton's campaigns (tied with Bank of America).
Popular Information reached out to Bank of America and asked, in light of its commitment to "do all we can to support our diverse communities," if it would continue to financially support Cotton in the future. The company did not respond.
Coca-Cola: $2,500 in contributions to Tom Cotton
Coca-Cola tweeted its support for Black Lives Matter, saying it was committed to joining "the effort to end systemic racism and bring true equality to all." The company says it believes we "must" come together and "demand justice."
The post is pinned to the top of the company's Facebook and Twitter accounts.
But Coca-Cola, through its corporate PAC, has donated $2,500 to Cotton, making it the seventh-largest corporate contributor to Cotton's campaigns.
Popular Information reached out to Coca-Cola and asked, in light of its vocal support for the protesters demanding justice, if it would continue to financially support Cotton in the future. The company did not respond.
Correction (6/8): Due a database error, this post originally misstated the amount donated to Cotton by the corporate PAC of Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola’s corporate PAC donated $2,500, not $19,500. I regret the error.
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