By David Moore, Sludge
At least two dozen giant corporations have financially contributed to anti-abortion Republican state campaign organizations in the 2022 election cycle while publicly taking the stand that they would help their employees access abortion care.
According to a review of IRS disclosures, this group of companies has donated more than $6 million since January 2021 to GOP organizations that explicitly and proudly seek to strip abortion rights from millions of people. In other words, these corporations are privately providing for their employees what they are complicit in denying to the public.
Google is one of these large companies.
On the day the Supreme Court issued its decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Google sent a company-wide email expressing its concerns and offering employees the ability to apply for relocation, no justification needed.
“Equity is extraordinarily important to us as a company, and we share concerns about the impact this ruling will have on people’s health, lives and careers,” Google Chief People Officer Fiona Cicconi wrote in the June 24 memo.
The Supreme Court’s majority opinion in the pivotal case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, had been leaked more than a month earlier, in early May. Despite the likelihood that Roe would fall in the months ahead, Google made contributions to two Republican organizations that are working to elect candidates for state office who seek to limit access to abortion care. Google gave $45,000 on May 9 to the Republican State Leadership Committee and $10,000 on June 7 to the Republican Governors Association, just some of its recent donations to the two groups.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision, laws restricting abortion and reproductive health care will be battled over in the states. At least twenty-two states already have laws that could be used to limit abortion, though how those measures are enforced will depend greatly on the attorneys general, governors, and other lawmakers in office.
These brand-name firms have pledged to cover travel costs for employees who live in states with restrictive abortion laws so they can obtain reproductive health care services in states without such laws. Donations made directly from their corporate treasuries, however, are going to groups like the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which works nationwide to elect and re-elect Republican candidates to serve as a state’s top legal official. In closely-contested races in states including Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the election will pit a Republican AG candidate who has pledged to pursue anti-abortion laws against a Democratic nominee who has said they would not fully enforce the bans—for example, in Georgia, citing a state constitutional right to privacy.
In an exclusive touting its latest fundraising numbers, RAGA told Fox Business it plans to spend millions of dollars to flip attorney general seats in Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin, and to hold the AG office in Arizona, among other targets.
Other national GOP groups supporting state candidates are the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), which works to elect state legislators and downballot candidates, and the Republican Governors Association (RGA), which this year will be active in over a half-dozen battleground races for governor with crucial implications for abortion access. These groups, registered with the IRS as 527 nonprofit organizations, support Republican state candidates through direct donations, independent expenditures, and far-ranging funding of campaign research and consulting services, among other assistance.
Companies Whose Policies Diverge From State GOP Donations
Just after the Supreme Court decision, Comcast announced it would cover travel costs for employees seeking abortion care, prompting a mention in the New York Times. In an email, the media giant said, “Our travel benefit includes all covered medical services and procedures, including reproductive healthcare, that aren’t available near a Comcast or NBCUniversal employee’s home.” Comcast has been one of the top five corporate donors to RAGA in the 2022 election cycle, giving the group more than $346,000 through the second quarter of this year. RAGA member Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch took the lead in communications around the legal effort to overturn Roe, filing an amicus brief last summer in the Dobbs case.
A Comcast affiliate based in Philadelphia, the Comcast Financial Agency Corporation, has donated $135,000 to the RSLC this election cycle. The RSLC’s members include Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, who praised the Supreme Court decision in a joint statement with a group of state Senate Republicans, celebrating the high court’s ruling “against radical Democrats who aim to change society in some very dark and disturbing ways.” Other RSLC members include Devin LeMahieu, majority leader of the Wisconsin State Senate, a state where enforcement of an 1849 abortion law will hinge on elections in November, and Georgia Republican House and Senate leaders. Marjorie Dannenfelser of the group Susan B. Anthony List told the Washington Post that anti-choice activists were in close contact with Republican state lawmakers on the activation of “trigger laws” restricting abortion care in the lead-up to the Supreme Court’s decision this summer.
Comcast and its affiliate have donated more than $250,000 to the RGA as well since January 2021. The RGA’s slate includes Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who signed a 2019 “heartbeat” bill that bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country. Far-right Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor Doug Mastriano, who had called banning abortion his “number one issue,” recently spoke at a fundraising event sponsored by the RGA.
Shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision, Amazon joined the ranks of companies pledging to cover abortion access, telling its vast workforce it would pay up to $4,000 in travel expanses related to abortion annually, a new benefit that will also be available for other “non-life-threatening” medical treatments. Since the start of last year, Amazon has donated $250,000 to the RGA, and it gave $25,000 to the RSLC on June 24, the date that the ruling was released.
Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms announced on June 24 that it would reimburse travel expenses “to the extent permitted by law” for employees accessing abortion care outside their home states. The tech giant has donated $50,000 to the RSLC this election cycle.
Other tech companies that have pledged to cover their employees’ abortion travel but donated to the Republican groups include Intuit, with more than $250,000 given to RAGA, the RSLC, and the RGA combined since the start of last year, and Oracle, with $25,000 given to RAGA and more than $200,000 to the RGA. In total, Google has donated $200,000 to the RSLC this election cycle and more than $220,000 to the RGA.
The day of the Dobbs decision, a spokesman for CVS Health told Bloomberg News that the pharmacy chain would support its employees in accessing abortion care out of state. The company has donated $280,000 to the RGA since last year and given $50,000 this cycle to the RSLC.
Dallas-based AT&T promptly said it would reimburse travel costs for employees seeking abortion care. “The health of our employees and their families is important to our company, and we provide benefits that cover the cost of travel for medical procedures that are not available within 100 miles of their home,” a company spokesperson told Business Insider. In addition to the $125,000 that AT&T has donated this cycle to RAGA, it has given $160,000 to the RSLC and $500,000 to the RGA—half of that amount donated on May 5, just days after the Supreme Court’s draft opinion leaked. Its competitor T-Mobile has also said it would expand its employee benefits in May to cover travel for health care, when the high court’s opinion was leaked to the press. The company has donated more than $250,000 combined to RAGA, the RSLC, and the RGA since the start of 2021.
In June, Chevron sent an email to staff widening its travel benefits for health care to provide abortion access, Bloomberg reported. In addition to the $50,000 that the oil giant has given to RAGA, it has contributed nearly $778,000 to the RSLC this election cycle, as well as $260,000 to the RGA.
Other companies that have publicly stepped up to cover employee travel for care including abortion while donating to one or more of the GOP state groups include Bank of America, Cigna, Draft Kings, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase, Kroger, Mastercard, Microsoft, Netflix, and Nike. The Walt Disney Company, which said in an internal memo it would expand employee healthcare coverage to cover travel to access abortion, reported an in-kind donation of nearly $60,000 to the RSLC. In the week before the Supreme Court decision, Sludge reported that several companies had pledged to cover abortion access for employees after making donations to RAGA, including Match, Citigroup, and Uber. In addition to donating $50,000 to RAGA, Uber has given $65,000 to the RSLC and $30,000 to the RGA since the start of last year.
Large Donations to State GOP Groups From Business Interests
Unlike corporate PACs, which aggregate donations from individual employees, donations to 527 nonprofits such as RAGA can come directly from company treasuries. Also, these nonprofit organizations granted 527 status by the IRS to influence elections can receive donations in unlimited amounts. Large companies, trade associations, and Republican megadonors are taking advantage of their ability to give six- and seven-figure donations to these GOP groups to back candidates for state office.
The top donors to RAGA since January 2021 are a pair of nonprofits that do not disclose their funders: the “dark money” behemoth Concord Fund, deeply tied to Federalist Society board of directors co-chairman Leonard Leo, which has given $3.5 million; and a U.S. Chamber of Commerce affiliate, the Institute for Legal Reform, which has given $1.3 million. Other large donors to RAGA since the start of last year include tobacco companies Altria ($475,000) and Reynolds American ($283,000), as well as industrial conglomerate Koch Industries ($380,000) and fossil fuel industry trade association the American Petroleum Institute ($175,000).
Wealthy individual donors are also opening their checkbooks for RAGA, whose spending aims to elect anti-choice attorneys general in battleground states. Home Depot co-founder and Republican megadonor Bernie Marcus has given $250,000 to RAGA since the start of last year. RAGA has also received $200,000 from Federalist Society board member and conservative legal activist C. Boyden Gray. Another GOP megadonor, poultry company CEO Ron Cameron, has donated $200,000 to RAGA, with the bulk of that amount given on June 16, and Texas-based billionaire Bill Austin of Starkey Hearing has contributed $65,000 this year.
The RSLC’s largest donors this cycle also include the Concord Fund ($1.1 million), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and related entities ($1.5 million), and Reynolds American (over $728,000). They’re closely followed by Virginia-based power company Dominion Energy, with more than $725,000 given this election cycle. Trade association PhRMA has donated more than half a million dollars this cycle to the RSLC, and member AstraZeneca has given $450,000, joined by donations of $240,000 and above from drugmakers Pfizer, Astellas Pharma, Eli Lilly, and biotech company Genentech.
Among individual donors to the RSLC this election cycle, Citadel hedge fund founder and billionaire Ken Griffin leads the way with a contribution of half a million dollars. Another hedge fund founder, Dan Loeb of investment firm Third Point LLC, has given the RSLC $200,000, and members of the DeVos family of Republican megadonors have combined to give that amount. Prominent Trump backer Ron Cameron has chipped in $50,000.
The RGA’s largest corporate donors since January 2021 have given in even higher amounts than the sums received by RAGA and the RSLC—among the group’s top givers is healthcare company Centene, with nearly $1.5 million, followed by giant electric company NextEra Energy, with $1.3 million. Healthcare company Anthem has given more than $1 million and Molina Healthcare has given $755,000, with Fresenius Medical Care giving $500,000 since the start of last year. Koch Industries has given the RGA $750,000 and WalMart has donated half a million dollars. Many hundreds more corporate donors have given at least $25,000 to bankroll this year’s Republican gubernatorial efforts.
At the fore of individual donors to the RGA, TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts has given more than $1.6 million and Bernie Marcus has given $1 million. Other GOP megadonors giving to the RGA include Amway heir and former Michigan gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos ($875,000), Ron Cameron ($1 million), and billionaire investor Paul Singer ($750,000). Dozens more individuals have given at least $200,000 to the group ahead of the November elections.
More lobbying groups that have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars each to the GOP state campaign groups since January 2021 include the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, and the National Rifle Association.