For the PDF version of this press release, click here.
Major Findings from the Report:
- The past five years have witnessed the greatest rollback of voting rights since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Those most affected are Black and Brown voters, Indigenous people, and younger voters.
- The current assault on American democracy is heavily bankrolled by conservative billionaires and the most environmentally destructive corporations in America. Termed the polluter-industrial complex (PIC), these are the sectors of Big Business that would stand to profit the most from a weakening of environmental regulations, public health and safety measures, and climate change legislation.
- Through their Super PACs, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), astroturf nonprofits, shell companies, advisory boards, think tanks, research institutes, policy institutes, foundations, trade associations, lobbying groups, public relations firms and social media data analysis, and advertisements in media outlets, the PIC has built the political infrastructure required to effectively spread targeted voter disinformation, draft repressive voting legislation, finance the campaigns of corporate-friendly officials supporting voter suppression measures, lobby against climate change legislation and other progressive government programs, weaken labor unions, and disenfranchise millions of concerned citizens.
- Leaders in this effort to impose new voting restrictions include the Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., where the voter suppression advocate Hans Von Spakovsky has managed their Election Law Reform Initiative. Between 1997-2015, ExxonMobil alone provided over $9.2 million to the Heritage Foundation, Federalist Society, ALEC, as well as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).
- Koch Industries is one of the world’s largest privately-owned fossil fuel energy-services corporations, and is a key funder of the conservative movement in the United States. Koch family foundations poured over $145 million into 90 groups attacking climate science and policy from 1997 to 2018. The Heritage Foundation – parent of the Election Law Reform Initiative – has received about $1 million from the Charles Koch Foundation since 2014. The Election Law Reform Initiative is pushing for mandatory ID laws and for restrictions on mail-in voting that disproportionately impact low-income voters of color.
- Core corporations within the PIC made $5 million in donations to state lawmakers supporting voter suppression bills between 2015 and 2020. Eleven companies alone from the PIC provided over $2.8 million of these funds, and include the fossil fuel giants Koch Industries ($293,000); Exelon Corp ($207,550); Exxon Mobil ($131,250); Chevron ($116,200); Marathon Petroleum ($205,365); and Dominion Energy ($280,050).
- Since the January 6 insurrection, six of the biggest fossil fuel companies in America – Valero Energy, Marathon Petroleum, ExxonMobile, Chevron, Occidental Petroleum, and ConocoPhillips – have given nearly $700,000 to the campaign and leadership PACs of the 147 Republican members of Congress who voted against certifying the election and continue to propagate the Big Lie that led to the attack. Koch Industries corporate PAC has provided $775,00 alone. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has termed these politicians the Sedition Caucus.
- The reason for this assault is simple: people of color and youth are on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Polls show that Black, Brown, Latino/a, Asian American, and Indigenous peoples overwhelmingly support action on climate change and environmental protection. About eight-in-ten U.S. Latino/a people surveyed say addressing global climate change is either a top concern or one of several important concerns to them personally.
- Consequently, candidates of color elected to represent communities of color have the strongest pro-environment and pro-climate action records in Congress. The League of Conservation Voters released an environmental scorecard in 2017, and revealed that Representatives of color are leading the way in environmental protection. The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) received a near-perfect score of 98 percent. Next came the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) with 90 percent and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) trailing close behind at 89 percent.
- Voter suppression tactics are now being supplemented by multifaceted election subversion strategies -- approaches that negate legitimate election results by simply having Republican-dominated state legislatures, election officials, or conservative judges use legal technicalities and “rigged” procedures to simply overturn the outcome. In these capacities, they are acquiring unprecedented control over how future elections will be run and how votes will be counted.
Without federal voting rights legislation, discriminatory voting laws and election subversion could go unchallenged. This is now a code red situation for all citizens concerned with saving our democracy and the planet. We are in imminent danger of our government becoming an Oil-igarchy under the control of a dangerous alliance of corporate billionaires, authoritarian populists, and the polluter-industrial complex.