Patagonia, never ones to be too far from a cause they believe in, are entering Georgia’s voting rights fray. The outdoor apparel giant announced that they’ll split a million dollars between the New Georgia Project and the Black Voters Matter Fund. Those two groups were at the forefront of the opposition to the legislation signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp last week.
“I call on fellow CEOs to join in denouncing these attacks on our democracy and to do more than make a corporate statement,” CEO Ryan Gellert wrote. “The strength of our democracy depends on every vote being counted everywhere, and we must protect access to the ballot box.”
Corley Kenna, a spokeswoman for Patagonia, told the Atlanta Courier Journal that they chose the New Georgia Project and Black Voters Matter Fund “Because we wanted to support the groups that are involved in the lawsuits challenging the recent bill signed into law in Georgia and that are effective grassroots community organizers.”
Georgia’s new swash of voting legislation comes in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s baseless allegations of mass voter fraud — a conspiracy theory no investigation or judge has found any evidence of. Though Trump’s claims may be false and his attempts to get Georgia officials to overturn election results were unsuccessful, the state has nevertheless quickly moved to tighten access to voting. This has all been done under the guise of protecting the integrity of an election, but the fact that Georgia narrowly swung blue in the 2020 Presidential Election for the first time in decades (largely thanks to a surge of voting about Black Georgians) seems hardly coincidental to the timing. The new legislation, which have drawn comparisons to Jim Crow from historians, includes a ban on giving water to people standing in line to vote. It’s unclear how such that measure will help prevent voting fraud.
It’s not unusual for Patagonia to wade into political waters, given the company’s unusually activist bent. But it joins groups for which political statements are a little more rare, with both Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines taking the unusual step of denouncing Georgia’s laws. Kemp was defiant during an appearance on Tucker Carlson tonight, saying “This is a message to all of us. They’re coming after you next. They’re going to boycott your business next. We have to stand up.”