Corporations calling for voting rights bill donated to Republicans who blocked it, watchdog says

Several corporations that publicly declared their support for legislation strengthening the Voting Rights Act have donated thousands of dollars this year to Republicans who recently blocked the bill in the Senate, a new analysis found.

Accountable.US, a watchdog group, found that eight major corporations that signed a letter in July calling for passage of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 have collectively donated $164,500 to GOP senators who voted this week against allowing debate on the measure. The companies include household names like Amazon, Dell and Facebook.

The voting bill supported by those corporations would require states with recent histories of discrimination to get federal "preclearance" to change their voting laws, a response to the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder that gutted the preclearance system in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Civil rights advocates have argued that the provision has successfully prevented proposed voting restrictions in states and localities with histories of racial discrimination.

"We need federal protections to safeguard this fundamental right for all Americans," the corporations wrote in July's letter, which has been signed by more than 230 companies. "Last Congress, the House of Representatives passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. We support the ongoing work of both the House and the Senate to enact legislation amending the Voting Rights Act this Congress."

Dell Technologies, whose founder Michael Dell has spoken out against proposed voting restrictions, has donated $38,500 to Senate Republicans since January, while Amazon has donated $22,500, according to Accountable.US.

Microsoft Corp., which lobbied against restrictive state laws throughout the spring, regularly made donations to political action committees affiliated with Senate Republicans through the end of June, the watchdog said in its analysis.

Facebook, meanwhile, has donated $26,500 to Senate Republican reelection campaigns, the analysis found.

Amazon, Dell, Facebook and Microsoft did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The House passed the voting legislation in August without any Republican votes. In the Senate, it earned the support of only one Senate Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska.

Democrats sought to advance federal voting legislation as some Republican-led states have advanced restrictive voting laws.