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With access comes responsibility — even if you are a multi-billion-dollar corporation, maybe more so.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 sided with Citizens United in its lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission — opening the floodgates to corporate money pouring into politics — deep-pocket entities have thrown money at business-friendly candidates and issues that shore up their bottom line.

Corporations’ influence in politics over the past decade cannot be overstated. They’ve called the shots as if chairmen of the board of an imagined USA Politics Inc.

We’ve come to expect it.

So it was no surprise when Coca-Cola, Delta and other companies took a public stance on Georgia’s new, more stringent voting laws. They called out lawmakers for making the process more cumbersome for voters.

We believe the stance against laws that impede voting laudable, whether the objections are voiced by individuals or corporations.

But you cannot just talk the talk. A check of campaign contributions shows corporations have financially backed the very candidates who crafted inhibitive voting laws in Georgia and elsewhere in the U.S.

A report by Public Citizen, a Washington-based government watchdog group, shows that lawmakers who have enacted voting restrictions have reaped millions of dollars in corporate donations, the Associated Press reported.

The report cites AT&T Comcast, Philip Morris USA, UnitedHealth Group, Walmart, Verizon, General Motors and Pfizer as among the top donors.

Public Citizen findings include:

• Companies donated at least $50 million to lawmakers who supported voting restrictions, including $22 million in the 2020 campaign cycle.

Nearly half of all Fortune 500 companies donated a combined total of $12.8 million to supporters of the restrictions.

• About three-quarters of the companies that changed their donation policies after the U.S. Capitol attack have also given to lawmakers who supported voting rights restrictions.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was inside the Capitol when the insurgence occurred, has himself benefited from corporate donations. The Kentucky Republican’s 2020 re-election effort drew $258,880 from 37 chief executives of companies on the S&P 500 stock index, MarketWatch reported.

But McConnell recently told companies speaking out against repressive voting laws to “stay out of politics” and to resist a “coordinated campaign by powerful and wealthy people to mislead and bully the American people.”

McConnell forgets that corporate America is where the money’s at.

The corporate money trail winds its way through the halls of Congress and into statehouses, where actions are being taken to erode democracy.

Lawmakers who seek to limit access to voting should have their pockets picked of corporate dollars.

Instead of backing them, corporations have the responsibility to turn their backs — and walk away.

— The News and Tribune

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