WASHINGTON, D.C. – As reported in Dallas Morning News, AT&T shareholders — encouraged by the company and its executives — voted against a proposal that was submitted criticizing the company’s “politically focused expenditures” that “appear to be misaligned with its public statements on Company values, views, and operational practices.” The story pointed to a new Accountable.US report finding that AT&T had donated at least $96,000 to the members of Congress who voted against certifying the 2020 election results following the insurrection on January 6th, 2021 — all after it had previously claimed it was suspending contributions to this very same group of lawmakers.
Accountable.US’ analysis also digs into the company’s over $244,000 in donations to Texas legislators after they voted in favor of two restrictive voting bills — SB 1 And SB 1111 — and to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who signed both bills into law. These donations are a stark contrast to AT&T’s CEO’s own words stating that “we believe the right to vote is sacred and we support voting laws that make it easier for more Americans to vote in free, fair and secure elections.”
AT&T’s executives and board members are obviously worried about backlash from its customers after donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to lawmakers behind some of the worst voter suppression schemes in decades. It explains why AT&T’s C-suite pushed shareholders so hard to vote to keep the public in the dark about their political activity that could not be more out of line with their stated values in support of democracy. AT&T has been playing both sides for months, telling the public they embrace voting rights while its affiliated PACs dump thousands into the campaigns of those objecting to our election results and to lawmakers denying the freedom to vote. While AT&T’s executives risk reputational harm by misleading the public about what they really stand for, they should recognize that a healthy democracy will always be what’s best for business.”
Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US
AT&T shareholders vote against political activity accountability report
Watchdog groups say the company’s political gifts to far-right politicians are a risk to its reputation with consumers.
By Dom DiFurio
About 55% of shareholders voted against the activist proposal at the company’s annual meeting Thursday.
In a previous statement in which the company advised shareholders to vote against the proposal, AT&T said it participates in the political process “in a bipartisan manner to support policies that sustain and grow our business and create stockholder value.”
The proposal was made by activist shareholder group As You Sow. Though the proposal failed, the group issued a statement Thursday describing the 44% vote in favor of the resolution as a “firm rebuke” of AT&T’s political involvement.
A report from watchdog group Accountable.US published Thursday ahead of the AT&T annual meeting found that the company donated $244,000 since 2021 to Texas politicians who supported the state’s restrictive voting bills. The new voting laws have resulted in hundreds of mail-in ballot applications being rejected already this year, alarming election officials.
The report also found that as of March, AT&T had donated $96,000 to members of the so-called Republican “Sedition Caucus” that voted against certifying the 2020 election results.
“A healthy democracy will always be what’s best for business, and it’s time that AT&T proves what side it’s on,” Accountable.US president Kyle Herrig said in a statement this week.
At the annual meeting, shareholders also voted down changes to executives’ pay, an independent board chairman and a civil rights and nondiscrimination audit.