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Pepsi, #StopJimCrow2, defund voter suppression

Our voting rights are currently under attack. 361 voter suppression bills have been introduced in 47 states this year. The GOP politicians are going to disturbing lengths to disenfranchise voters, particularly voters of color.

Making the frenzied push for Jim Crow 2.0 possible are the wealthy donors and corporations that underwrote the campaigns of those politicians leading today’s suppression efforts. In just the last few years, Corporate America gave more than $50 million to the legislators backing voting restrictions.

In the aftermath of the Capitol Riots, PepsiCo, like many other corporations, temporarily suspended its political giving. Now, though it is “regrettable that the sense of urgency came after the [Georgia voting] legislation was passed,” as Pepsi board member Darren Walker put it, the corporation has issued a statement about how “the right to vote is a cornerstone of American democracy.” 

But it’s going to take more than that to convince the public of the junk food corporations’ sincerity. After all, each year PepsiCo underwrites a global network of lobbyists, litigators, PR flacks, (propagators of junk science like the International Life Sciences Institute), and trade groups to compel democratic institutions to do their bidding.

Not least of these is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which PepsiCo gave more than $500,000 to in 2020. It is one of the most powerful trade groups in the U.S. — having spent $82 million lobbying in 2020. The Chamber is a leading opponent of the For the People Act (HR 1), afraid that the law will “silence Americans” who “participate in the political process through the collective action of an association or corporation” (in other words, corporate leaders of America and their lobbyists).

In other words, PepsiCo is trying to have its soda, and drink it too.

PepsiCo can make all the statements they like for voting rights, civil rights, and racial justice, but until they stop underwriting voter suppression and corrupting democracy through large donations and other means, its commitments will ring hollow.

Sign the petition to PepsiCo: Make your pause on political giving permanent beginning with a commitment to defund and drop ties with the legislators, lobbyists, and trade groups behind Jim Crow 2.0 voting laws.

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