We’re calling out the money behind Texas’ SB8 and other ugly laws.

  • Action #1: Tell your senators that what happened in Texas proves we need the campaign finance reforms of S.1 – For the People Act.
  • Action #2: Remind the corporate enablers of Texas SB8 that we SEE them for what they are.
  • UPDATE Action #3: Write to CEO’s of Texas-based corporations and tell them to speak up!

(Great video! Action to get doctors qualified immunity already written here in Action #4.)

Corporate values…

Donor transparency sites have had a lot of traffic recently, as people try to find out who’s been funding the misogynistic and extremist legislators behind Texas’ Orwellian forced-birther bill SB8 (info here). The largest donor is a private organization – Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR), whose ironic mission is to fight “against new causes of action and new theories of liability.” They’ve donated over $2.3 million since 2018 to support a law that is completey opposite to that. Not much to do about them yet, so we’re moving on to corporations…

(thebrick.house) The “Texas Heartbeat Bill” has been around in the Texas legislature since February 2019, when Rep. Broscoe Cain and four co-authors first introduced it. The version signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott was introduced, SB 8, was introduced in March by Sen. Bryan Hughes with 17 Senate co-authors and five House co-authors.

Sludge reviewed the campaign contributions that the 22 Republican co-authors of the heartbeat bill have received and found that telecom and media giant AT&T has been by far the largest corporate donor to the group. AT&T’s Texas PAC has given more than $570,000 to the co-authors, including many donations that were made after the bill had been proposed. 

Rep. Briscoe Cain, the originator of the bill, has received $3,500 from AT&T’s PAC, $3,000 of which was received after he first proposed the bill. Sen. Hughes, the primary author of the version that became law, has received more than $50,000 from the company. 

What else have these guys been up to?

  • Removing bodily autonomy from women: Sen. Bryan Hughes and Rep. Briscoe Cain have been busy. Besides using the disposition of fetal matter as a dogwhistle for people particularly indisposed to caring for the needs of live children or any others “specifically mentioned” in the Bible, they have signed on to these other harmful bills, all of which make the world a worse place for women and minority communities.
    • GOP “Critical Race Fear-baiting”: Hughes’ bill SB3, which forbids the teaching of the GOP’s fake description of Critical Race Theory, was passed by the TX Senate in July. His bill strips out most mentions of women and people of color from a previously approved social studies curriculum — more than two dozen requirements that include “Native American history, work by civil rights activists Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, historical documents related to the Chicano movement and women’s suffrage, and writings by Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass.It also removes the requirement to teach “the history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong.” Rep. Cain voted for it’s passage.
    • Making voting harder: Hughes described his voter suppression bill SB1 as “common sense reforms” to ensure the integrity of elections by “making it both easy to vote and harder to cheat.” The real cheat is the GOP’s efforts to retain power in the face of a changing and expanding electorate, as their own Heritage Foundation’s election fraud database showed no cases of Texas election fraud in 2020, and only one in 2019. The Brennan Center for Justice is now suing Texas over this new law, which includes criminal prosecution of poll workers if they try to stop partisan poll watchers from harassing or intimidating voters. Rep. Cain is asponsor.
    • Making shooting people easier. Both Hughes and Cain were sponsors of HB 1927, the permitless gun carry law that now allows most Texans who legally own a firearm to carry it openly in public without obtaining a permit or training, a measure opposed by law enforcement. Andrew Karwoski, a policy expert at Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country stated “In Texas, repealing the permit altogether is a radical change. Just allowing almost anyone to carry a handgun in public, no questions asked, no background check or safety training, is really dangerous.

But AT&T is not the only corporation who’s been funding these dangerous extremists. Read this great Popular Information article here.

Action #1: Tell your senators that what happened in Texas proves we need the campaign finance reforms of S.1 – For the People Act.

What happened in Texas with SB8, a law the majority of Americans disagree with, is a natural result of Citizens United’s unlimited and dark money contributions. They’re behind the campaigns of right-wing legislators and the takeover of the Supreme Court by the white supremacist-adjacent Federalist Society during the Trump administration. Here’s a quick example of how money has distorted our democracy…

  • Blocking Garland and putting in Gorsuch………………………… (est. $17 million dark money)
  • Pushing Kavanaugh through that ugly assault issue………… (est. $17 million dark money)
  • Pushing Barrett to the bench in the middle of an election… (est. $10 million dark money)
  • Silently flushing almost 50 years of constitutional precedent regarding abortion rights down the toilet…..PRICELESS.

Make your legislators braver!

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep./Sen. [__] to know how angry I am at the passage of Texas Bill SB8, along with the Supreme Court’s tacit permission, overturns the protections of Roe v. Wade. I’m aware that this situation has been caused by the unlimited flow of corporate and dark money into our political system from those, such as the Federalist Society, who are in favor of radically regressive social and economic agenda they could never achieve legislatively. I expect Rep.Sen. [__] to do the following actions to protect our democracy:

Contact:

  • Rep. Julia Brownley (CA-26): email, DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
  • or Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24): email. DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
  • Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
  • and Senator Padilla: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
  • Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

Note: (Popular Information) “According to its most recent annual report, from 2019, corporate donors to the Federalist Society include Google ($100,000+), Facebook ($50,000+), Chevron ($50,000+), T-Mobile ($25,000+), Verizon ($25,000+), Exxon ($10,000+), and Campbell’s Soup ($5,000+).”

Action #2: Remind the corporate enablers of Texas SB8 that we SEE them for what they are.

We’ve provided samples and email addresses to get you started. We are admittedly both angrier/snarkier in our messaging than average. Use a voice and personal experiences to make this message sound like you. We need to shame and embarrass corporations into backing away from the hard right-wing extremist politicians in the GOP.

(A short list of companies, including those vulnerable to SB8’s sue-a-thon like Uber and Lyft, have spoken against out, and put money on the line, against the bill. There should be a LOT MORE!)

We’re starting with these three and we’re working on more that we’ll add in. You create a great sample letter? Send it in to indivisibleventura@gmail.com and we’ll add it in too.

Message to John Stankey, CEO of AT&T

  • Contact: js9991@att.com, or write him at John Stankey, Chief Executive Officer, 208 S. Akard Street, 208 S. Akard Street, Dallas, TX 75202
  • Copy your email to katie.nagus@att.com, and ta1626@att.com, and go here, choose “Customer Service Contacts”, and fill in the form that opens at the bottom to send your remark ito the VP of Customer Care.
  • Copy your letter to the AT&T Board of Directors here: Office of the Secretary of AT&T Inc., 208 S. Akard Street, Suite 2954, Dallas, Texas 75202.

Dear Mr. Stankey.

I just wanted to alert you that one of your communications people erroneously added a statement in your name to your 2020 Diversity, Equality & Inclusion report, indicating that “equality is one of AT&T’s core values” and that your company supports “advance gender equity and the empowerent of women and girls (as) a reflection of our belief that a diverse and inclusive business environment..” (TLDR)

In truth, Mr. Stankey, we know money is the true language of corporate “core values.” It’s obvious your employee didn’t realize that you are, in fact, the top corporate donor to the forced-birthers behind SB8, contributing over $310,000 to them and their Orwellian nightmare currently traumatizing women throughout the state and worse, that many of the donations were made after the true nature of the bill was revealed. According to thebrick.house, your PAC gave Rep. Briscoe Cain, the bill’s originator $3,500, $3,000 of it AFTER he first proposed this bill and you gave Sen. Hughes, the primary author of the version that became law, more than $50,000Women may actually die as a result of this law and we will make sure your donations towards creating this dystopian nightmare for them are remembered far longer than your 2020 report.

Your core-value cash has also sponsored other bills by these legislators and their compatriots that make life more dangerous for both women and communities of color: SB3, a cynical GOP reimagining of Critical Race Theory, that strips out teaching both the contributions of people of color and the amorality of white supremacy, HB 1927, a law that will infuse the public space with permitless handguns to the alarm of law enforcement, and SB1, a voter suppression law that will make it more difficult for the electorate to unwind this mess you’ve helped fund.

So anyway, you may want to publicly retract that completely misleading statement that would have us believe your company cares a whit about actual women and minorities, or learn to slip cash to legislators more discretely. If you bother to put out “core-value” statements in the future, we look forward to one that more accurately indicates your true interests.

However, in the meantime, those of us with AT&T plans will be re-evaluating whether we want part of our monthly fees used to curry favor with extreme politicans and will be considering changes.

Message to Tom Rutledge, CEO of Charter Communications

Contact: Tom.Rutledge@charter.com, or write him at Tom Rutledge, President & CEO, 400 Atlantic Street, 9th Floor 
Stamford, CT 06901

Dear Mr. Rutledge,

I was surprised and disappointed to find out the Spectrum, the company which celebrated “Female Trailblazers during Women’s History Month” including the film “RGB” about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, donated to the forced-birther legislators behind Texas SB8, an Orwellian nightmare law that is currently traumatizing women across the state. These legislators, and we must assume you as well, care nothing about the values she stated – “The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. … When government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”

The Texas Ethics Commission reports that you’ve given $313,000 to various sponsors of this bill between 2018 and 2019. It is inconceivable that your company did not vet these legislators for their views on the rights of women beforehand.

We also don’t believe you missed their views on other issues that make life more dangerous for both women and communities of color: SB3, a cynical GOP reimagining of Critical Race Theory, that strips out teaching both the contributions of people of color and the amorality of white supremacy, HB 1927, a law that will infuse the public space with permitless handguns to the alarm of law enforcement, and SB1, a voter suppression law that will make it more difficult for the electorate to unwind this mess you’ve helped fund.

We know money is the true language of corporate “core values. We don’t know exactly what these legislators offered you that was more important than the rights and health of approximate half your customers. But as the head of one of America’s largest cable companies, surely you are aware of a great deal of entertainment lore, including the “Peter Parker princilple form Spider-Man – “With great power comes great responsibility.” With your money, you have great power, Mr. Rutledge, which you have so far used to hurt women and people of color. Do better.

Message to Karen Lynch, President and CEO of CVS Health

Contact: Karen.Lynch@CVSHealth.com, or write her at Karen Lynch, President and Chief Executive Officer, Customer Support Center, One CVS Drive, Woonsocket, RI 02895

Dear Ms. Lynch,

I was surprised and disappointed to find out that CVS, a company whose success depends on women customers, donated $72,500 since 2018 to the sponsors of Texas’ SB 8, the draconian forced-birther law. Maybe you’ve forgotten your own phrase “We’re working together to support the unique health needs of women at every age.” Maybe you’ve also forgotten that one of the most important needs of women is to be able to control their reproductive future, both for their own health and for the benefit of their families.

Your response to Popular Information’s inquiry regarding your donation – “Past political contributions are by no means a blanket endorsement of an individual’s position on every issue, nor are they an indication of where we’ll direct our future support,” was actually disturbing.

We assume you did your homework on the misogynistic and extremist legislators behind this bill, so you are aware that they’ve also responsible for other legislation that make life more dangerous for both women and communities of color. For example – SB3, a cynical reimagining of Critical Race Theory, strips out teaching both the contributions of people of color and the amorality of white supremacy, HB 1927, a law that will infuse the public space with permitless handguns to the alarm of law enforcement, and SB1, a voter suppression law that will make it more difficult for the electorate to unwind this mess that you’ve helped fund.

We know money is the true language of corporate “core values. What we don’t know is exactly which of these legislators “positions” was so important to your corporation that you were willing to sacrifice the rights and health of approximately half your customers.

Those of us who’ve been customers at your stores for years will be following your lead…We will also be re-evaluating where “we’ll direct our future support” for our healthcare needs.

Other corporate contact information: here

Action #3: Write to CEO’s of Texas-based corporations and tell them to speak up!

(from newsyoumayhavemissed) Here’s a list of Texas-based companies that have national profiles. I would suggest writing them to ask about any public actions they’ve taken in response to SB8, telling them why you oppose SB8, explaining how you’ve used their products/services in the past, and naming the companies you’ll be turning to instead if they don’t take public action in opposition to SB8. Some of these businesses are donors to the Texas politicians who sponsored SB8—where specific information is available, it’s included in brackets after the companies’ contact information. (Regarding symbols: * = donation information from Popular Information; ° = donation information from UltraViolet.)

Resources

  • (Popular Information) These corporations bankrolled the sponsors of Texas’ abortion ban 
  • (Pop.Info – twitter) This will come as a shock but the leadership of Texans for Lawsuit Reform includes 9 men and zero women
  • (thebrick.house) AT&T Is the Top Corporate Donor to the Texas Abortion Ban Co-Authors
  • (followthemoney.org) TX state Rep. Briscoe Cain
  • (followthemoney.org) TX state Sen. Bryan D Hughes
  • (Transparencyusa.org) TX state Sen. Bryan D Hughes
  • (Transparencyusa.org) Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC
  • (Politico) Why There’s No Liberal Federalist Society
  • (Jacobin) We Still Don’t Know Who Is Paying for Trump’s Supreme Court Seats
  • (Citizen.org) Overturning Citizens United
  • (eduactionfund.org) END CITIZENS UNITED ACTION FUND
  • (Atlantic) The Local Consequences of Citizens United: The attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson say new rules about political spending have most affected state and local elections. What does that mean for democracy?
  • (CommonDreams) Four Reasons Dropping Campaign Finance Reform From S. 1 Is A Dumb Idea
  • (youtube) Sen. Whitehouse Gives Presentation On ‘Dark Money’ Influence On Supreme Court Nomination | MSNBC
  • (BrennanCenter) Citizens United Explained: The 2010 Supreme Court decision further tilted political influence toward wealthy donors and corporations.
  • (Congress.gov) S.1 – For the People Act
  • (BrennanCenter) Annotated Guide to the For the People Act of 2021
  • (Friendlyatheist) A Methodist Pastor is Brilliantly Calling Out the “Pro-Life” Crowd’s Hypocrisy
  • (cnn.com) Texans can now openly carry guns in public without a permit or training. Police say the new law makes it harder to do their jobs

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