Walmart calls its employees “heroes” for putting their health at risk to work during the pandemic. AT&T champions L.G.B.T.Q. rights. Microsoft is undertaking one of the country’s most ambitious corporate efforts to eliminate its carbon emissions.
At a time when Corporate America is speaking up on some of the most important issues of our time, there is a contradiction between companies’ words today and the role they played in helping create the moment we find ourselves in.
An examination of political spending over the past decade shows how those companies — and dozens of other Fortune 500 corporations — quietly funded political efforts that are antithetical to their public stances. They financed state attorneys general seeking to undo the Affordable Care Act, which has provided health insurance for millions of Americans during the pandemic; they provided funds that backed local legislators who tried to roll back L.G.B.T.Q. rights; and they gave money that supported candidates challenging federal climate change initiatives.
Uniquely, public companies are the biggest benefactors of key political committees supporting the campaigns, donating more than individuals or other groups.
The analysis of donations by the Center for Political Accountability, a nonpartisan organization that tracks political disclosures, reveals many of the contradictions: Walmart is among the companies that donated money to the Republican Attorneys General Association, which supported a group of state attorneys general including Ken Paxton of Texas, who was narrowly re-elected in 2018 and is now leading a group of Republican-run states in a Supreme Court case that seeks to overturn key aspects of the Affordable Care Act.