Many of America’s biggest companies talk a lot about how much they care about democracy and voting rights. And they should – these corporations have done exceedingly well under our democratic system. But too many of them are professing their support for democracy while taking actions that undermine it.
In fact, when we scored Fortune 100 Corporations on 14 different metrics related to democracy, 66 of them got an F, and none got an A.
So which company has been doing the most damage to American democracy?
There were plenty of contenders.
For many people, Meta Platforms – formerly Facebook – might come to mind for the outsized role it played in allowing false claims of voter fraud to spread across its platforms, and for allowing them to be used as an organizing tool for the “Stop the Steal” rally and subsequent violent insurrection.
A case could also be made for big banks like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, or Wells Fargo, who undermine the will of the people by spending vast sums lobbying for tax breaks and against antitrust laws and consumer protections. Or defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon, who might believe they are helping spread democracy across the world, but are undermining it here at home.
And then there’s Home Depot, which has the distinct dishonor of being the Fortune 100 company to donate more money than any other during the 2022 election cycle both to members of Congress who voted against federal voting rights legislation ($845,000 as of July 2022), and to members of Congress who voted against certifying the 2020 election ($360,000 as of July 2022).
While none of these companies fared well, however, the company that got the lowest score of all Fortune 100 companies on the new American Democracy Scorecard was AT&T.
How AT&T Scored Just 10 Out of 100 on the American Democracy Scorecard
So what earned AT&T the lowest score out of all of America’s 100 largest corporations?
While the company did score points for making a strong statement in support of voting rights, and suspended donations to members of Congress who did not vote to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election after January 6, it later donated at least $138,000 to those very same members, and more than $550,000 to federal legislators who voted against voting rights legislation.
For as much as AT&T donates to federal legislators, however, its donations are felt even more acutely at the state level, where political campaigns don’t tend to have as much funding, so each dollar can have greater impact. Here, AT&T led all Fortune 100 companies in two key categories, donating more than $600,000 to state legislators who voted for anti-voter legislation, and more than $150,000 to state legislators who furthered the Big Lie by supporting partisan election audits stemming from baseless voter and election fraud allegations.
In total, between state and federal legislators, that’s more than $1.1 million to help keep people in power who have actively undermined democracy.
AT&T is the Primary Revenue Source for Election Disinformation News Network OAN
But AT&T’s biggest effort to subvert democracy may be through its support for One America News, also known as the OAN Network. A conservative news network that often makes FOX News look moderate, OAN has peddled misinformation related to COVID-19, and became one of the largest promoters of election fraud conspiracy theories after Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. The disinformation was so bad that Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion lawsuit against OAN for making false claims against it. The election technology firm Smartmatic also filed a similar lawsuit.
According to OAN’s founder, he started the network at AT&T’s request. And according to court filings, approximately 90% of OAN’s revenue stream – tens of millions of dollars – has come from broadcasting contracts with AT&T, and other platforms where the telecommunications giant has a substantial stake. In fact, OAN’s lawyer told the court that the network would “go out of business tomorrow,” if OAN lost these contracts, and its accountant testified that without the contracts, the network’s value “would be zero.”
"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.”
John Stankey, AT&T CEO
What You Can Do
The American Democracy Scorecard website provides a wealth of information about what America’s largest companies are doing to uphold or undermine democracy, as well as tools for sharing this information and making your voice heard – including emailing AT&T’s CEO, and tweeting @ATT.