Patagonia is the latest American company to weigh in on Georgia’s new voter law, blasting Republican Governor Brian Kemp and state lawmakers for ‘doing everything in their power to make it harder to vote.’
The company took a public stance against the law even though it, too, requires shoppers to show their photo identification when picking up curbside orders. DailyMail.com has sought comment from Patagonia.
The California-based outdoor gear brand announced on Tuesday that it would also donate $1million to voting rights advocacy groups, including Black Voters Matter Fund and the New Georgia Project.
The move was announced in a letter released on Tuesday by Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert.
Ryan Gellert, CEO of popular outdoor brand Patagonia, announced that his company was opposed to Georgia’s new voting law. Gellert is pictured above in Denmark in 2019
Patagonia is the latest company to publicly come out against 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
Patagonia becomes the latest corporate actor to stake out a position against the new legislation. Major League Baseball announced that it was relocating the All Star Game from Atlanta to Denver as a protest.
Republicans this week expressed fury at other companies including Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola for publicly condemning Senate Bill 202.
‘On March 25, Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia signed a new, restrictive voting-access law that limits early and absentee voting and ballot drop-box locations; piles on rigid voter ID requirements; and gives people in power the ability to challenge election results they don’t like,’ Gellert wrote.
‘Governor Kemp claims the new law will shore up faith in the election system, but in reality, it will only make it harder for Georgians of all racial, socioeconomic and political stripes – especially Black voters – to elect their representatives.’
Major League Baseball confirmed on Tuesday that the Colorado Rockies would now host the annual game. MLB pulled the game out of Truist Park in Atlanta in response to the new Georgia voting law
Gellert called on fellow business leaders to donate to activist groups that work to oppose restrictions on voting rights and to ‘commit to reaching out to business partners to facilitate speaking out against further state laws that would restrict voting access.’
He wrote: ‘Many of you have acknowledged that as business leaders, we must support all stakeholders and not just answer to shareholders.
What does Georgia’s new GOP election law do?
By Associated Press
CAN THE STATE TAKE OVER LOCAL ELECTION OFFICES?
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.
ARE PEOPLE BANNED FROM HANDING OUT SNACKS OR WATER TO VOTERS IN LINE?
The new law makes it a misdemeanor to hand out ‘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.
Polling places would be able to, but not required to, set up self-serve water dispensers for voters.
DOES THE BILL ELIMINATE SUNDAY VOTING?
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.
‘Let’s show the world we mean it. Our communities and employees will have a more equitable chance to thrive when they have the ability to participate in the direction of our great country.
‘Let’s take action together for them.’
The Republican-backed Georgia law strengthens identification requirements for absentee ballots, shortens early voting periods for runoffs and makes it illegal for members of the public to offer food and water to voters waiting in line.
The Georgia law has ignited fierce debate nationwide about voting rights, particularly as it comes in the wake of a tense election which Republican supporters of former President Donald Trump claim was tainted with fraud.
President Joe Biden has likened the new law to ‘Jim Crow’ – a reference to the institutional segregation that denied African-Americans civil rights in the South in the decades following the Civil War.
But supporters of the law accuse Democrats of exaggerating their claims that it will result in voter suppression and disenfranchisement of African-Americans.
After Kemp signed the bill into law, MLB announced that it was moving its All Star Game, which was originally scheduled to take place in the Atlanta Braves’ home stadium, Truist Park, on March 7, to Colorado.
The decision by MLB sparked a backlash, with Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, noting that the law provides 17 days of in-person early voting in Georgia compared to Colorado’s 15 days of in-person early voting.
Scott also noted that Atlanta’s African-American population is 51 per cent black while Denver’s is 9.2 per cent.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki earlier this week rejected claims that Colorado has similar voting laws to Georgia.
When asked during a White House press briefing about the ‘very similar’ voting regulations in the two states, Psaki said: ‘Well, let me just refute the first point you made.
‘Colorado allows you to register on Election Day, Colorado has voting-by-mail where they send to 100 per cent in the state who are eligible.’
Trump also called on supporters to ‘boycott baseball’ as a result.
‘Baseball is already losing tremendous numbers of fans, and now they leave Atlanta with their All-Star Game because they are afraid of the Radical Left Democrats who do not want voter I.D., which is desperately needed, to have anything to do with our elections,’ Trump said in a statement.
The Atlanta Braves had earlier issued a statement saying it was ‘disappointed’ by the decision that was made by the organization.
The removal of the lucrative All-Star Game marks one of the most significant and high-profile signs of protest over Georgia’s new voting laws.
Atlanta-based companies Coca-Cola Co and Delta Air Lines are among those to blast the new law as ‘unacceptable’.
Microsoft Corp, which in February announced a major new investment in Atlanta, said provisions of the law signed last week ‘unfairly restrict the rights of people to vote legally, securely, and safely.’
Citi’s chief financial officer Mark Mason said in a LinkedIn post that he was ‘appalled by the recent voter suppression’ passed in Georgia.
Dozens of Black executives, including Merck & Co Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Frazier, had earlier called on their peers in US companies to push back against wider restrictions on voting rights.
The campaign against the new Georgia law, led by Frazier and former American Express Co CEO Kenneth Chenault, urged companies to look past the appearance of partisanship and publicly stand against it and voting restrictions being pursued in other states.
‘We’re calling on corporate America to publicly oppose any discriminatory legislation and all measures designed to limit Americans’ ability to vote,’ Chenault told Reuters.
‘American companies need to take a stand.’
BILLION-DOLLAR OUTDOOR GEAR EMPIRE GETS BEHIND ‘WOKE’ CAUSES LIKE FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE AND RACIAL ISSUES
Patagonia was founded by American rock climber and environmentalist Yvon Chouinard. His estimated net worth is $1.8billion, according to Forbes
Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert’s announcement that the company was opposed to Georgia’s new voting law is hardly surprising given the firm’s long history of support for liberal causes including curbing climate change and racial justice.
The company donates 1 per cent of all of its net revenues each year toward conservation causes – what it calls a ‘self-imposed’ climate tax.
Last July, it joined an advertising boycott of Facebook and its subsidiary, Instagram, after it accused the social network of failing to take steps to stop the spread of ‘hateful lies and dangerous propaganda’ on its platform.
Patagonia, which is based in Ventura, California, spent nearly $1million on ads about social issues or politics between May 2018 and June 2020, according to Facebook’s ad library.
The ads got the ‘social issues’ moniker because they were about environmental issues.
Days after the police-involved death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black who died after he was arrested in Minneapolis on May 25, Patagonia pledged $100,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
The company released a statement last spring saying that since 2016 it had pledged more than $4million ‘to increasing support and attention to grassroots groups in frontline communities who are often hardest hit not only by racial injustice, but also the climate crisis, environmental pollution, and now the COVID-19 pandemic.’
Patagonia was founded by American rock climber and environmentalist Yvon Chouinard.
Chouinard, 82, has a net worth of $1.8billion, according to Forbes. As Patagonia is not a publicly traded company, Chouinard is the sole owner.
In 2019, the firm generated an estimated $800million in revenues. It has about 100 company-owned stores around the world.
While he no longer has a day-to-day role in running the company, he has remained influential in its corporate direction.
Gellert’s announcement that the company was opposed to Georgia’s new voting law is hardly surprising given the firm’s long history of support for liberal causes including curbing climate change and racial justice
In November 2018, after then-President Donald Trump signed into law a new tax overhaul that slashed corporate taxes, Chouinard and his then-CEO, Rose Marcario, announced that they would donate the $10million the company saved by virtue of the legislation to organizations combating climate change.
Gellert was recently installed as Patagonia CEO after a successful stint running another outdoor gear company, Utah-based Black Diamond.
Before being named CEO, he was based in Amsterdam, where he worked as the head of Patagonia’s European, Middle Eastern, and African corporate operations.
Gellert does not appear to be politically active though federal elections records show that he donated $500 to the campaign of former Colorado Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat.