One of Georgia’s largest companies is facing a boycott backlash from Republicans after its CEO bashed the state’s new GOP voting reform bill.
Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey recently joined a chorus of other chief executives who, under pressure from Democrats and activist groups on the Left, have begun weighing in on the matter, prompting Republicans to push back.
“Let me be crystal clear and unequivocal: This legislation is unacceptable, it is a step backward, and it does not promote principles we have stood for in Georgia around broad access to voting, around voter convenience, about ensuring election integrity. And this is, frankly, just a step backward,” Quincey said on CNBC.
Former President Donald Trump, an avid drinker of Diet Coke, responded to Quincey’s remarks by calling for a boycott. He said that for years, Democrats “played dirty” and boycotted products from companies they disagreed with, and he encouraged his supporters to co-opt that strategy for Coca-Cola and other companies.
“It is finally time for Republicans and Conservatives to fight back — we have more people than they do — by far!” Trump said in a statement. “Don’t go back to their products until they relent. We can play the game better than them.”
Trump was later criticized for his remarks after a photo was posted on social media that appeared to show a bottle of Coca-Cola on his desk.
Additionally, eight Republican state lawmakers in Georgia wrote a letter to Kevin Perry, the president of the Georgia Beverage Association, requesting that it stop providing any Coca-Cola products to their offices. Coca-Cola has provided free beverages to Republican and Democratic lawmakers from Georgia for decades, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Given Coke’s choice to cave to the pressure of an out of control cancel culture, we respectfully request all Coca-Cola Company products to be removed from our office suite immediately,” they wrote in the letter. “Should Coke chose to read the bill, share its true intentions and accept their role in the dissemination of mistruths, we would welcome a conversation to rebuild a working relationship.”
Lawmakers and GOP political figures at the national level have also condemned Coca-Cola, which employs 4,000 people in the Peach State. Former Arkansas governor and failed presidential candidate Mike Huckabee jabbed that Coca-Cola was planning to change its name to “Woke-A-Cola” in light of its position on Georgia’s new law.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas attempted to broaden the net of dissent and wondered on Twitter who make up “the largest institutional purchasers” of Coca-Cola are and whether they agree with the company’s “radical politics.”
The largest stakeholder of the company is billionaire investor Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, which holds a 9.28% stake in the company that is worth nearly $20 billion. The second-largest shareholder is Vanguard Group, which has a 6.85% stake worth nearly $14.5 billion.
When contacted by the Washington Examiner on Tuesday, Vanguard’s head of corporate public relations said it had “nothing to share at this time” about Coca-Cola’s position on the Georgia voting law. Buffett’s assistant did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Coca-Cola’s pushback on the voting law came after liberal protesters held a “ die-in,” which featured demonstrators lying on their backs in defiance, at Atlanta’s World of Coca-Cola last month in Atlanta.
Other companies have also faced the brunt of GOP opposition after coming out against the voting law. The CEO of Delta Air Lines, the state’s largest private employer, wrote a memo to employees branding the law as “unacceptable.” MLB moved its All-Star Game and 2021 draft to Colorado over the legislation, which has prompted some GOP lawmakers to propose stripping it of its long-standing antitrust exemption.
The new law’s provisions alter some voting scheduling procedures, limit the number of absentee ballot drop box locations, and require photo IDs in order to vote absentee by mail.
Coca-Cola also drew scrutiny after slides from a training program about race were posted online. The slides urge employees to “try to be less white” in a bid to decrease racial discrimination. Coca-Cola told the Washington Examiner at the time that “the video and images attributed to a Coca-Cola training program are not part of the company’s learning curriculum. Our Better Together global training is part of a learning plan to help build an inclusive workplace.”
The Washington Examiner reached out to Coca-Cola for comment but did not receive a response.