Google's PAC continues to donate to anti-gay politicians

Over 10 years of contributions, with no signs of stopping

Independent journalist Judd Legum's Popular Information newsletter published an article last week that revisits the recurring issue of Fortune 500 corporations waving the rainbow pride flag in June, while their PACs happily continue to donate to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians year after year. For this 2021 analysis, Popular Info walked through HRC's 2020 Corporate Equality Index and started with companies with a 100% rating according to HRC, then looked at their PAC donations for contributions to politicians with a zero HRC rating, meaning "extremely anti-LGBTQ+". The result is a list of 23 companies ranked by their anti-gay donations, with Google making the top 10, at $483K in donations since 2019. The full table appears in the article, or you can view the JPEG here.

This type of two-faced corporate behavior, in which company PR departments hype the firm's alleged pro-LGBTQ+ credentials while the PAC donations say otherwise, has been in the news before, because the behavior hasn't changed. Back in 2019, Buzzfeed ran a similar article, noting that "a group of 30 advocates sent a letter Wednesday to dozens of companies, including Amazon and Google, calling on them to stop giving money to politicians who discriminate." The Buzzfeed article cites a group called "Zero for Zeroes", which released its full analysis sheet of anti-gay corporate PAC donations for 2010-2019. The Google PAC's contributions to HRC-zero politicians date back to the beginning of the dataset, with a $1000 donation in September 2010 to former Iowa Congressperson and known racist Steve King.

The fact that this behavior keeps recurring also strongly points to flaws in HRC's ranking methodology, which continues to allow corporations to receive a perfect score on HRC's "corporate equality index" even when the corporate PACs donate to undermine LGBTQ+ rights. If HRC would change its methodology to include PAC donation history as a scoring element, that would provide a strong motivator to force change. Many Big Tech firms strongly value the perfect HRC score, and there would be a significant round of negative press if HRC were to block it. HRC needs to stop handing out carrots when it ought to be using the stick.

For an additional level of fun, since PAC donations are public information, you can look up the list of individuals who donated $200 or more to help Google's PAC make those anti-gay contributions, for every election cycle back to 2000. Is your manager on the list? If yes, that might make for a productive discussion topic in your next 1-on-1 with your manager. Is your director or VP on the list? You could ask them in the next department all-hands meeting why they're donating to a PAC that supports anti-gay politicians.

Here are links to some of the references I've mentioned, plus some extracts from the Popular Information article below.

-- Buzzfeed in 2019: "These Tech Companies Are Giving Millions To Politicians Who Vote Against LGBTQ People"
www.buzzfeednews.com/article/leticiamiranda/these-tech-companies-are-giving-millions-to-politicians-who

-- Zero for Zeroes analysis of PAC donations, 2010-2019:
docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1S8TsRVS_Z-1L9rJnq5uVI_jlDVB2YO0RZjGrdvcBr8w

- HRC Corporate Equality Index, 2021:
hrc-prod-requests.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/CEI-2021-revised-030121.pdf

-- The Guardian article on Popular Info's 2021 analysis:
"25 corporations marking Pride donated over $10m to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians – study"
www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/14/corporations-anti-lgbtq-politicians-donations-study

-- Google PAC donors, $200 and up (not searchable, unfortunately):
www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/google-inc/C00428623/donors/2020

- Bruce

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Popular Information: "These 25 rainbow flag-waving corporations donated more than $10 million to anti-gay politicians in the last two years"
https://popular.info/p/corporate-pride-political-donations
June 14, 2021

... A Popular Information investigation found that 25 major corporations have spent more than $10 million since 2019 supporting members of Congress with a zero rating on the latest Congressional scorecard produced by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the most prominent LGBTQ rights organization in the United States...

Despite their extensive support for politicians undermining LGBTQ rights, all these corporations boast a 100% rating on the HRC's 2020 Corporate Equality Index. Along with workplace policies, the Corporate Equality Index purports to measure corporations' "public commitment to the LGBTQ community." But HRC's methodology excludes political donations, enabling corporations to craft a pro-LGBTQ image while bankrolling politicians that are undermining LGBTQ rights...

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