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Rick Scott blasts 'woke corporate America' over Georgia voting law changes and warns of 'backlash'

Senator Rick Scott took aim at ‘woke corporate America’ on Tuesday in a scathing letter condemning corporations opposed to changes to Georgia's voting laws.  

The Republican from Florida penned an open letter on Tuesday warning corporations including Major League Baseball and Delta Air Lines would face a 'massive backlash' from more conservative US states for opposing the GOP-backed changes. 

Scott specifically mentioned Delta and MLB over their stance, with the latter relocating the All-Star Game from Truist Park in Atlanta to Denver, Colorado in protest. 

‘You know that the Georgia law actually expands early voting and does nothing to suppress or curtail the voting rights of anyone,’ according to Scott.

‘And yes, the Georgia law requires an ID to vote. Well, so does Delta Airlines, and so does Major League Baseball in order to pick up tickets.’

Scott threatened to ‘make corporate welfare a thing of the past’ while predicting that ‘a massive backlash is coming’ when Republicans ‘take back the Senate and the House’ in November 2022.

It’s unclear what Scott meant by ending ‘corporate welfare.’

Senator Rick Scott (seen above in Washington, DC, on April 13), a Republican from Florida, wrote an open letter blasting 'woke corporate America' and warning that a 'backlash was coming'

Scott took aim at Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines for declaring its opposition to a GOP-backed voting reform signed into law by Georgia's Republican governor, Brian Kemp. The image above shows a Delta terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta on February 3

Scott's letter also mentioned Major League Baseball, which moved the All-Star Game from Atlanta's Truist Park to Denver in protest of the election reform. The image above shows a game between the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays in Arlington, Texas on April 5

DailyMail.com has reached out to Scott’s office, Delta Air Lines, and MLB seeking comment.

‘You must have loved the accolades from your elitist, left-wing peers when you took the MLB All-Star Game from Georgia,’ Scott wrote in his open letter, which was published by Fox Business.

‘What a fun day for you on Twitter. Congratulations.’

Scott went on to accuse companies of ‘destroying people’s jobs and hurt people who haven’t worked since COVID-19 took a member of their family or destroyed their small business.’

The senator also hit out at the companies for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of last year’s police-involved death of George Floyd.

‘You get texts from your elitist friends praising you for your courageous stand when you support "mostly peaceful" movements that loot small businesses, set fire to government buildings, and take the lives of innocent people,’ Scott wrote.

'You think that makes you morally superior to the people in what you call "flyover country."

'But you are lying. You are lying to Americans, lying to each other, and lying to yourselves.

Several companies publicly condemned the Republican-backed law signed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (pictured above surrounded by fellow GOP lawmakers in Atlanta on March 22)

A protester in the Georgia State Capitol slams the new law as a measure that amounts to 'voter suppression' in this March 25 file photo

'You know that everything you have said about the election reforms in Georgia being racist is a lie.'

Scott concluded his letter by writing: 'It turns out that power does corrupt, and you have become corrupt. 

'American taxpayers will soon stop tolerating your lies, your attempts to denigrate them, and your attempts to control the way they think, act, talk.'

He added: 'So, cancel as many people as you can right now. Make as much money off of slave labor in Communist China as you can now. 

'Keep telling your customers how racist and sexist and unsophisticated they are. 

'The backlash is coming.' 

Last month, Georgia's Republican governor, Brian Kemp, signed into law an overhaul of state elections that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run. 

Kemp signed the bill less than two hours after it cleared the Georgia General Assembly. 

The state House approved it 100-75, before the state Senate quickly agreed to House changes, 34-20. Republicans supported it, with Democrats opposed. 

Democrats and voting rights groups say the law will disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color. 

It is one of a wave of GOP-backed election bills introduced in states around the country after former President Donald Trump stoked false claims that fraud led to his 2020 election defeat. 

The law replaces the elected secretary of state as the chair of the state election board with a new appointee of the legislature after Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger rebuffed Trump’s attempts to overturn Georgia’s election results.

Georgia's big corporates come out against new voting law

Coca-Cola

President of North America Alfredo Rivera said the soft drink giant disappointed by the law. 

'As soon as Georgia's legislature convened this year, our company joined with other Georgia businesses to share our core principles: We opposed measures that would seek to diminish or restrict voter access and we advocated for broad access, voter convenience, election integrity and political neutrality. 

'Anything that inhibits these principles can lead to voter suppression. We took these steps because they align to our Purpose and the conscience we follow,' he said.

United Parcel Service 

The postal and logistics firm said this week it supports the ability and facilitation of all eligible voters to exercise their right to vote. 

'Like other businesses in the community, we actively engaged with political leaders in both parties and other stakeholders to advocate for more equitable access to the polls and for integrity in the election process across the state. 

'We echo the statement by the Metro Atlanta Chamber and stand ready to continue to help in ensuring every Georgia voter has the ability to vote,' the company said.

Porsche

The car giant, whose North American operations are headquartered in Georgia, issued a statement saying that 'equal access to the polls for every voter is core to a democracy.' 

'As an Atlanta-based business, Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) supported the work of the Metro Atlanta Chamber with members of the Georgia General Assembly to maximize voter participation and ensure election integrity. 

'We understand the legislative outcome remains subject to debate and hope a resolution can be found between all sides that encourages and enables every eligible vote,' the company said.

Home Depot 

The DIY Big Box store has been less strident in its public statements on the bill so far.

'We believe that all elections should be accessible, fair and secure and support broad voter participation,' Home Depot spokesperson Sara Gorman said last week.

'We'll continue to work to ensure our associates, both in Georgia and across the country, have the information and resources to vote.'

It also allows the board to remove and replace county election officials deemed to be underperforming.

That provision is widely seen as something that could be used to target Fulton County, a Democratic stronghold covering most of Atlanta, which came under fire after long lines plagued summertime primary elections.

Republican Rep. Barry Fleming, a driving force in crafting the law, said that provision would only be a 'temporary fix, so to speak, that ends and the control is turned back over to the locals after the problems are resolved.'

The law also reduces the timeframe in which runoff elections are held, including the amount of early voting for runoffs. And it bars outside groups from handing out food or water to people in line to vote.

The law does not contain some of the more contentious proposals floated by Republicans earlier, including limits on early voting on Sundays, a popular day for black churchgoers to vote in 'souls to the polls' events.

It instead mandates two Saturdays of early voting ahead of general elections, when only one had been mandatory, and leaves two Sundays as optional.

A lawsuit filed in the US District Court in Atlanta by three groups — New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter Fund and Rise — challenged key provisions of the new law and said they violated the Voting Rights Act. 

Delta has been the target of Republican ire after its top executive, Ed Bastian, said the legislation was 'based on a lie' that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen. 

'The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia. This is simply not true,' Bastian wrote in a memo to the airline's 80,000 employees.

'I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta's values.'

But Bastian's statement drew a swift rebuke from Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.

'Today's statement by Delta CEO Ed Bastian stands in stark contrast to our conversations with the company, ignores the content of the new law, and unfortunately continues to spread the same false attacks being repeated by partisan activists,' Governor Kemp said.

Delta Air Lines had initially issued a statement touting some parts of the law, such as expanded weekend voting, but said 'we understand concerns remain over other provisions in the legislation and there continues to be work ahead in this important effort.'

But Bastian spoke more forcefully in a subsequent memo to employees.

He emphasized, 'I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta´s values.'

Republicans in the Georgia House retaliated against the company, voting to strip Delta of a tax break worth tens of millions of dollars annually. 

The vote was in reality rendered symbolic when the state Senate failed to take up the measure before adjourning its yearly session. 

But it points to potential political retaliations for Bastian and Delta as well as other businesses who voice disproval of policy.  

Delta's move comes after other corporations headquartered in the state issued statements condemning the voting bill.

Coca-Cola and United Parcel Service, whose companies are headquartered in the state, both came out against the voting rights bill with sharply-worded statements.

Porsche, whose North American headquarters is in Atlanta, also spoke out, as did pharmaceutical giant Merck and global asset manager Blackrock and Mercedes-Benz.

Coca-Cola, Delta, and Home Depot told previously Bloomberg that they asked Georgia lawmakers to remove some of the more extreme measures called for in the legislation.

Home Depot released a statement last week saying that the company 'supports candidates on both sides of the aisle who champion pro-business, pro-retail positions that create jobs and economic growth.'

Coca-Cola said that while the bill was being debated, the company was 'active with the Metro Atlanta Chamber in expressing our concerns and advocating for positive change in voting legislation.

'We, along with our business coalition partners, sought improvements that would enhance accessibility, maximize voter participation, maintain election integrity and serve all Georgians.'

Civil Rights groups including The National Black Justice Coalition have argued that golfers should refuse to play at the Masters, held annually at Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia, unless the law is repealed.

 'The PGA Tour and Masters Tournament have both made commitments to help diversify golf and address racial inequities in this country – and we expect them to not only speak out against Georgia's new racist voter suppression law – but to also take action,' the statement read.   

Georgia's new election laws explained

The sweeping rewrite of Georgia's election rules, signed into law in late March by Republican Governor Brian Kemp, makes numerous changes to how elections will be administered, including a new photo ID requirement for voting absentee by mail.

Republican supporters say the law is needed to restore confidence in Georgia's elections. Democrats say it will restrict voting access, especially for voters of color. Here's a look at some of the top issues:

African Methodist Episcopal Church Bishop Reginald Jackson announces a boycott of Coca-Cola Co. products outside the Georgia Capitol on Thursday, March 25, 2021 in Atlanta

The State Election Board can now take over local election offices and replace officials 

Much of the work administering elections in Georgia is handled by the state's 159 counties. The law gives the State Election Board new powers to intervene in county election offices and to remove and replace local election officials. That has led to concerns that the Republican-controlled state board could exert more influence over the administration of elections, including the certification of county results.

One target for intervention could be Fulton County, a Democratic stronghold that contains most of Atlanta. The heavily-populated county has been plagued by problems, including long lines, and it is often singled out by Republican officials. Under the law, the board could intervene in up to four counties at a time and install a temporary superintendent with the ability to hire and fire personnel including elections directors and poll officers.

Demonstrators in Atlanta hold a rally outside of the World Of Coca-Cola museum protesting the Coca-Cola corporation's donations to several politicians who are in support of several voting bills that are an attempt at voter suppression

Anyone handing out snacks or water to voters in line can be prosecuted

The new law makes it a misdemeanor for 'any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink' to anyone standing in line to vote. The prohibition extends 150 feet from a polling place and 25 feet from any person standing in line.

Advocates of the law say they are attempting to crack down on political organizations or advocacy groups trying to influence voters just before they cast a ballot. Critics say it's cruel and would penalize even nonpartisan groups or individuals for something as simple as giving water to someone waiting in a long line. Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler slammed the proposal Thursday before the bill was signed into law, saying: 'They want to make it a crime to bring Grandma some water while she's waiting in line.'

Georgia lawmakers argue that polling places would be able to, but not required to, set up self-serve water dispensers for voters.

 Some defenders of the law, including Tucker Carlson, have claimed that the prohibition on handing out water only covers political organizations - which is the law in Montana. 

But the  Georgia law specifically says 'any person' - and could include friends and family of voters in line.

Early voting and black-voter drives as Georgia residents attended church were seen as vital in securing Senate run-off victories  for Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock

Early weekend voting has been expanded, rather than restricted

Republicans had proposed at one time to limit early voting on weekends, a time when many black churches conduct 'souls to the polls' efforts to take congregants to vote. But Republicans reversed themselves, and the measure now expands weekend early voting. Previously, one day of weekend voting was required, with counties given the option of offering more. Now two Saturdays will be required, and counties can offer two Sunday voting days as well. Republicans point to this provision to argue they are actually expanding, rather than restricting, voting access.

'Contrary to the hyper-partisan rhetoric you may have heard inside and outside this gold dome, the facts are that this new law will expand voting access in the Peach State,' Kemp said Thursday.

State Rep. Park Cannon, D-Atlanta, is placed into the back of a Georgia State Capitol patrol car after being arrested by Georgia State Troopers at the Georgia State Capitol Building in Atlanta, Thursday, March 25, 2021

Georgia's runoff races will be shortened 

Georgia is the only state in the nation that mandates runoff elections between the top two finishers following general elections in which no candidate achieves a majority. Like some other states, Georgia also mandates runoffs for candidates who do not win a majority in a party primary.

The system came under scrutiny from Republicans after Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won twin runoffs in January.

The new law shortens the time for runoffs from nine weeks to four, with lawmakers saying the current span is 'exhausting' and needs to be shortened to a 'more manageable period.'

Military and overseas voters will use ranked-choice absentee ballots to rank all possible candidates before a primary or general election, allowing their preferences to be determined in any possible runoff. Georgia only had three weeks before runoffs until 2013, when a federal judge ordered a longer gap to give military and overseas voters more time to return ballots.

The shorter period means less time for early and mail voting. Early voting had lasted three weeks before runoffs. Now early voting would begin 'as soon as possible' but no later than the second Monday before the election, possibly leaving as little as five weekdays and no weekend days of early voting. Voters would also have less time to apply for a mail ballot.

No new voters could be registered in the period before a runoff because the registration deadline would be the day before the earlier election.

Protesters opposed to changes in Georgia's voting laws sit on the steps inside the State Capitol in Atlanta, Ga., as the Legislature breaks for lunch Monday, March 8, 2021, in Atlanta

Opponents vow to keep fighting the new laws   

Three groups filed a lawsuit late Thursday to try to block the law. The New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter and Rise Inc. say the law violates the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as well as parts of the federal Voting Rights Act that say states cannot restrict Black voter participation.

'These unjustified measures will individually and cumulatively operate to impose unconstitutional burdens on the right to vote, to deny or abridge the voting rights of Black Georgians, and to deny Black voters in Georgia an equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process and elect candidates of their choice,' says the lawsuit, which is filed against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Georgia's State Elections Board.

Opponents are also looking to Congress, which is considering nationwide voting standards. A Democratic-backed measure passed the House earlier this month, but faces opposition from Senate Republicans wary of a federal takeover of state elections.

The federal proposal would create automatic voter registration nationwide, allow former felons to vote, and limit the ways states can remove registered voters from their rolls. It would expand voting by mail, promote early voting and give states money to track absentee ballots.

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