Texas Business Group That Condemned Bathroom Bill Pivots on Anti-Discrimination, Now Backs Lawmakers Pushing Voter Suppression
Washington, D.C. — The Texas Association of Business (TAB), a state chamber of commerce that has regularly partnered with the staunch voting rights opponent U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is throwing its weight behind discriminatory efforts in the Texas legislature to disenfranchise Black and brown voters of color. This is a major departure from its 2017 campaign credited with helping to stop anti-transgender bathroom bills in the state, an Accountable.US analysis found.
At the time, TAB’s bathroom bill campaign bluntly stated, “discriminatory legislation is bad for business” and noted Texas could lose $8.5 billion and 185,000 jobs if the bigoted bathroom bills passed. Despite this previous push for equality, TAB is now aligning with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in opposition to voting rights protections in Texas. The group has given nearly $87,000 to 42 sponsors and cosponsors of SB 7, an “expansive” voter suppression effort that would have disproportionately harmed Black and Latino voters, and formally endorsed 36 of these lawmakers in 2020 alone.
“The Texas legislature’s scheme to keep Black and brown communities from voting is no less discriminatory than its bigoted bathroom bills of the past and every bit as bad for business — so why has the Texas Association of Business reversed course in favor of discrimination this time around?” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “Texans’ constitutional rights are on the line, but rather than recognize this attack on voting rights as bad for business, TAB has given thousands of dollars to the bill’s sponsors and released questionable polling that clouded the need for voter protections. All eyes are on Texas businesses that claim to support voting rights — will they hide behind TAB, or speak out on behalf of their vulnerable customers and workers?”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The Texas Association of Business is closely aligned with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which led an aggressive lobbying campaign against HR 1, the For the People Act — much needed legislation to protect voting rights on the national level which would counteract many of the state-level attacks on democracy, like in Texas. In addition to TAB’s financial ties to SB 7’s sponsors, just days before the Texas House passed SB 7, TAB released a poll on election reform claiming that voters opposed federal election oversight. Notably, Texas’ Democratic lawmakers specifically pleaded for such federal protection in the For the People Act as they mounted a successful effort to block SB 7 just a few weeks after the TAB poll.
Another national poll released around the same time contradicted TAB’s findings, showing that over 60% of likely voters support the For the People Act’s provisions that would protect against SB 7’s worst policies.