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CEOs discuss pulling donations, additional public statements to fight voting bills

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More than 120 CEOs, business leaders, attorneys and experts came together on Saturday afternoon to discuss further action against voting legislation nationwide, call attendees told NBC News.

The group discussed numerous options for pushing back on the GOP-led efforts to restrict access to the ballot box including pulling donations, refusing to relocate business or jobs to states that pass restrictive measures, and moving events, said one of the call’s organizers, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld.

“It was incredibly concrete,” he told NBC News.

The meeting was first reported Sunday by The Wall Street Journal.

A wide variety of industries were represented on the call: financial, pharmaceutical, travel, technology, retail, and transportation. Notable attendees included Brad Karp of the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments, Chip Bergh of Levi Strauss and Arthur Blank, Home Depot co-founder and owner of the Atlanta Falcons.

Representatives of AMC Theaters and three major airlines were also in attendance.

Major corporations’ recent foray into the election policy debate comes as Republicans across the country work to advance hundreds of restrictions, changes that voting rights advocates and civil rights groups argue would disproportionately affect voters of color. Earlier this month, several major corporations spoke out against a restrictive new law in Georgia and pending legislation in Texas, while Major League Baseball announced it would move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest of the state’s law.

Republicans immediately pushed back.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that it is “stupid” for corporations to take stances on divisive political issues, before warning corporate America to “stay out of politics.” (He softened his stance a day later, saying, “I didn’t say that very artfully yesterday. They’re certainly entitled to be involved in politics. They are. My principal complaint is they didn’t read the darn bill,” referring to Georgia’s recently enacted law.)

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, called the corporate response “nonsense,” and said American Airlines’ CEO should “go away” after the airline denounced a GOP-sponsored bill under consideration in the state where it is headquartered. Republican lawmakers in Texas advanced another restrictive voting bill out of the state House Thursday.

Sonnenfeld said he and other organizers invited more than 120 CEOs and hoped a dozen would join. Ninety turned out with just 48 hours’ notice — with a few calling in from Augusta, Georgia, where the Masters Tournament was underway — for the 2 p.m. ET call Saturday. Organizers left the Zoom room open after they wrapped up at 3:10 p.m., because attendees were still active in the chat.

“The overriding spirit is they don’t want politicians using wedge issues to try and solidify their hold on office, because that leads to angry communities and finger-pointing workforces and divided shareholders. It makes their job as CEOs harder to manage these constituents. They want social harmony,” Sonnenfeld told NBC News.

The Black Economic Alliance is coordinating a public statement that’s likely to be released this week, said Mike Ward, co-founder of the Civic Alliance, a nonpartisan group that encourages civic participation from businesses.

Ward said he’s helping organizers to follow up with companies on their responses and expects that a number of companies will come out in favor of federal voting legislation in the coming weeks.

House Democrats recently passed a sweeping voting rights bill, the For the People Act, which would create a federal floor of election access and regulations. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has promised it would get a vote in the full Senate, but its chances of passage are slim because of the 60-vote threshold in chamber currently split 50-50.

Democrats are also expected to reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would update and strengthen the Voting Rights Act, this year.

Sonnenfeld said the call’s strong attendance as a “statement of defiance” against Republican pushback to corporate criticism.

“We had the top brass of American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta. If they’re going to boycott airlines, they better have their own jet,” he said.



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Jersey fishing battle: France threatens 'retaliation' as EU wades in – 'Anything possible'

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FRANCE is threatening “retaliation” against the UK over the row between British and French fishermen in Jersey which escalated earlier this month.

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Republicans are ousting Cheney all because Trump wouldn’t concede

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WASHINGTON — Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., is about to get ousted from the House GOP leadership. Arizona Republicans are still digging through those ballots in Maricopa County. And from Georgia to Florida to Texas, GOP-controlled state legislatures are passing legislation that place restrictions on voting.

What’s more, suspects are still being arrested for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. And we are just three months removed from an impeachment trial and acquittal.

The root cause of all of these events — the original sin — was an incumbent president of the United States, Donald Trump, who refused to concede an election he lost.

By more than 7 million votes. And by an Electoral College result identical to the margin he won by in 2016: 306-232.

It was a close election, but it wasn’t that close.

Had Trump simply conceded an election he lost — like John Kerry, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton all did before him — none of this would be happening.

That rally and subsequent insurrection in Washington wouldn’t have taken place.

Neither would have the former president’s second impeachment trial.

Nor the voting restrictions; the hunt for bamboo fibers in Arizona; and not least of all, the No. 3 Republican in House leadership about to lose her job.

So as we try to make sense of all of these events and developments, it’s important to state it plainly: They’re all taking place because an incumbent president refused to concede an election he clearly lost.

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Deal or no deal?

With President Biden set to meet with congressional leaders on Wednesday (including Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy), as well as GOP senators on Thursday to discuss jobs and infrastructure, Trump’s original sin raises an important question:

Can Biden really negotiate with a party whose real leader to this day still refuses to concede he lost?

On “Meet the Press” yesterday, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said McConnell could support a deal with Biden on infrastructure.

“On infrastructure, he has made it clear. If we can find something that actually spends money on infrastructure, roads and bridges — imagine that, as opposed to what the Biden plan does which is spends a trillion on things which have no relationship to infrastructure — we can cut a deal,” Cassidy said.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

66 percent: The share of American adults who say they use social media at least once a day, per the latest numbers from a recent NBC News poll.

64 percent: The share of American adults who think social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter do more to divide us than bring us together, per the same poll.

36,539: The average number of daily, new coronavirus cases in the U.S. over the last seven days, per the most recent data from NBC News.

585,835: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,710 more than Friday morning.

31.7 percent: How many people have been fully vaccinated for Covid-19 in America

391,008: The average number of daily, new coronavirus cases in India over the last seven days, according to Johns Hopkins.

5,500 miles: The length of Colonial Pipeline Company’s system, which remains closed after last week’s cyberattack.

21 picograms: The level of the anti-inflammatory drug found in Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s blood, enough to fail a drug test that’s thrown the horse racing world into chaos.

Virginia GOP convention count enters Day 2

It’s Day 2 of the Virginia GOP counting ballots from Saturday’s unassembled, drive-through convention in picking its nominee for governor. Here’s the latest from NBC’s Deepa Shivaram:

“In Richmond, there’s a livestream accessible online of ballots being counted, and even a shared excel spreadsheet — all in effort to combat any notion of an unfair or fraudulent process. ‘We would also like to ensure all the convention delegates that their ballots will be counted fairly and accurately — leaving no room for doubt or question as to whom our nominees will be,’ the Virginia GOP chairman Rich Anderson said in a statement released Saturday.”

“Voters NBC News spoke with in Madison County, Va., had mixed reviews on the pivot to an unassembled convention rather than a primary (like the one Democrats are holding next month). Some expressed concern and how few voters were really able to participate in a convention during a pandemic, calling it ‘ridiculous’ and ‘not fair.’ Only 54,000 delegates were eligible to vote Saturday.”

“But Bill Fletcher, a voter from Rappahanock who said Pete Snyder was his top choice for governor, said, ‘I trust in the system and they’ll do it. Everybody’s got to present their ID and everything and I think that’s a good thing. I think it should be as difficult to vote. Is it is to buy a firearm or vice-versa.’”

“Tabulating the results could go as late as Thursday, and in the meantime, state Sen. Amanda Chase is continuing to float the idea of running as an independent if she doesn’t secure the nomination.”

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Senate Democrats are going to revise S. 1, their sweeping elections and voting rights bill, during Tuesday’s markup.

Tens of thousands of Afghans who helped Western countries in the country want to be evacuated ahead of America’s withdrawal in fear of the Taliban.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy publicly backed Rep. Elise Stefanik’s leadership bid Sunday.

The New York Times has a new look at the sexual misconduct allegations against New York Democrat Scott Stringer that have roiled the New York City mayoral race.

This Texas businessman began hawking unfounded claims of widespread electoral fraud back in 2018 before playing a central role in perpetuating the lies about the 2020 election.



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BBC's Chris Mason defends interview with angry ex-Labour voters after left-wingers erupt

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CHRIS Mason has been made to defend his interview with enraged Labour voters who have turned against Keir Starmer.

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