Corporations don’t like voter suppression, so McConnell wants them out of politics. Seriously?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has warned CEOs of large corporations to “stay out of politics,” calling their engagement in divisive political issues “stupid.” An ironic turn of events given the fact that Republicans are supposed to be the party that supports capitalism, free markets and free speech. 

What’s more, the GOP has been filling its campaign coffers with corporate donations for years and has even encouraged and publicly supported companies such as Hobby Lobby in their free speech efforts surrounding divisive political issues such as birth control and LGBTQ rights. But when the tables turn and companies speak out against the Republican Party and legislation it backs, the hypocrisy is astounding.

As Republicans nationwide are furiously working to enact voter suppression bills in statehouses, Democrats in Congress are trying to enact campaign finance reforms and broaden voter access to thwart the restrictive state measures. These dueling efforts are about to come to a head in the Senate and are causing quite the corporate kerfuffle. The voter suppression bills championed by Republicans are creating outrage among ordinary citizens as well corporate America, and even spurring lawsuits.

Support for voting scares Republicans

It’s no wonder that the “For The People Act” (H.R. 1) has bipartisan and broad public support and that Republicans are now doing damage control in order to serve their own interests. As the GOP continues to hemorrhage corporate donors, McConnell has called the outrage against GOP-led voter suppression efforts “a fake narrative” meant to “mislead and bully the American people.” His goals are to assuage the fears of corporate donors and bully them into not getting political. Republicans know their party doesn’t stand for democracy or for the people, but for their own campaign coffers and self-interest.

Republicans are scared of H.R. 1’s bipartisan popularity with voters — so much so that the Republican National Committee (RNC) has dropped a six-figure ad buy for a blitz of targeted ads in the battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire and Nevada with vulnerable Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2022. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is making a seven-figure ad buy in the same states. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on March 24, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

The RNC argues that H.R. 1 is “self-serving” to Democrats and weakens election integrity, which is ironic as Republicans in state houses across the country are working to restrict voter rights and limiting access to the ballot box in order to ensure better outcomes for Republican candidates. This ad blitz comes as controversial bills in Iowa and Georgia have recently been passed that tighten voter access through curtailing eligibility to vote by mail, remove ballot drop boxes, and shorten the amount of days early voting is available to voters.

GOP lawmakers in other swing states such as Arizona, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are considering voter restrictive legislation as well. Now that corporations such as Coca-Cola and Delta, are speaking out against the legislation, Republicans know that they’re current losing the messaging battle and if the “For The People Act” passes in the Senate they can no longer rig elections in their favor in Republican-controlled states as federal enforcements will be put in place and equality restored to the voting system.

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Republicans have a significant uphill messaging battle to climb since there’s large-scale bipartisan support for H.R. 1. A survey conducted by Data for Progress showed 67% of likely voters supported the proposed legislation while just 19% opposed it. What’s more, 77% of Democrats, 68% of Independents, and 56% of Republican voters expressed approval for the bill with the broadest support for the prevention of foreign interference, limiting money in politics, and increasing election security. 

Messaging built on lies

What’s more, the reason for the Republicans full court press to suppress voters and restrict access to the ballot box is due to the “big lie” they told their voters about Democrats stealing the 2020 election, fueled by former President Donald Trump’s accusations of “rigging” and “fraud.” Voters bought into his lies so deeply that some of them stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent insurrection that left five dead.

But, it wasn’t until recently that Sidney Powell, a Trumps campaign lawyer, said that “no reasonable person would conclude that the statements” made by her in regard to election fraud were truly “statements of fact.” Republicans not only lost the 2020 election, they’re losing the communication war because their message is built on lies.

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While Republicans will continue to go all-in on their intimidation tactics to try to discourage vulnerable Senate Democrats from supporting H.R. 1, they should know that there is widespread public support for its provisions to make elections and voting more fair, secure, accessible and transparent. These senators must remain strong and do what the people elected them to do when they turned the Senate blue in 2020.

Republicans continue to stand on the wrong side of history and democracy. One can only hope that their voter suppression attempts in states will be nullified with Senate passage of the “For The People Act,” and that corporate America will continue to see through their hypocrisy.

Independent Ashley Pratte, a former Republican, is a communications strategist, political commentator, and a board member of Republican Women for Progress. Previously she was director of media relations and a consultant for Better For America. Follow her on Twitter @AshPratte. The opinions expressed in this commentary are her own.

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