Bank of America, Microsoft Denounce North Carolina’s Anti-LGBT Law, but Fund Politicians Who Passed It

Bank of America says it supports nondiscrimination, but its political action committee gives heavily to North Carolina’s Republican Party, governor, speaker of the house, and Senate president.

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 15:  Queen Elizabeth Johnson, an employee of Redlee/SCS Group, cleans the front of an atm machine across the street from Bank of America's headquarters on September 15, 2008 in in Charlotte, North Carolina. After withdrawing from the competition to buy Lehman Brothers, Bank of America stepped in with an offer to buy Merrill Lynch for $50 billion. (Photo by Davis Turner/Getty Images)

BANK OF AMERICA, Lowe’s, Microsoft, and American Airlines all have two things in common: They have strongly criticized North Carolina’s new law that prevents local governments from prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and money from their affiliated political action committees helped put the politicians who passed the law in office.

Representatives from Bank of America and Lowe’s declined to answer questions from The Intercept about whether they plan to stop contributing to the responsible politicians. American Airlines’s corporate communications manager stated, “We don’t discuss future contributions.” Microsoft did not respond to inquiries before publication.

The North Carolina law, which has been widely condemned in the business world, as well as by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, was an initiative of the state’s Republican Party, which controls both houses of the state legislature. The bill passed the North Carolina House 83-25 and the state Senate 32-0 after all the Senate Democrats walked out; it was signed into law by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.

Charlotte-based Bank of America said last Thursday in response to the law’s passage that the company “has been steadfast in our commitment to nondiscrimination and to our LGBT employees. … We support public policies that support nondiscrimination.”

However, Bank of America’s PAC has been a consistent, significant contributor to Gov. McCrory; Phil Berger, president pro tempore of the state Senate; Tim Moore, speaker of the state House; and the North Carolina Republican Party. The Bank of America PAC’s treasurer is Wendy Jamison, who is also Bank of America’s senior vice president for public policy.

According to data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics, Bank of America’s PAC donated $8,000 to McCrory for his losing campaign for governor in 2008, and then gave him another $8,000 in 2012, when he won. Since 2002, it’s also given $41,500 to Berger, $13,500 to Moore, and $86,000 to the state Republican Party.

Lowe’s, also based in North Carolina, said after the bill’s passage that it “opposes any measure in any state that would encourage or allow discrimination.” Nonetheless, its PAC — whose treasurer is Cindy Reins, assistant treasurer of Lowe’s Companies — has donated heavily to the same politicians.

Lowe’s PAC gave $8,000 to McCrory for his 2008 gubernatorial campaign and another $8,000 when he ran in 2012. Lowe’s has donated $14,500 in recent years to Berger, $2,000 to Moore, and $16,250 to the North Carolina Republican Party.

Microsoft has joined a corporate campaign calling on politicians “to abandon or defeat” anti-LBGT legislation, and its president, Brad Smith, specifically criticized the North Carolina law on Twitter. And like the political action committees of Bank of America and Lowe’s, Microsoft’s PAC — run by its managing director for government affairs, Edward Ingle — has given to the same anti-LBGT politicians, though somewhat less generously. Since 2008, the Microsoft PAC has given $2,000 to McCrory, $3,000 to Berger, $2,000 to Moore, and $4,000 to the North Carolina Republican Party.

Finally, American Airlines has stated that the new law goes “against our fundamental belief of equality.” The American Airlines PAC gave $2,500 to Berger and $1,000 to Moore for their most recent campaigns in 2014.

The money donated by political action committees affiliated with corporations comes from employees and company officials, rather than directly from the corporate treasury. However, PACs exist to serve the corporation’s interest, and — as is the case with all four corporations here — are generally managed by corporate executives.

Thank you to Jonathan Cohn for inspiring this article:

Top photo: Queen Elizabeth Johnson, an employee of Redlee/SCS Group, cleans the front of an ATM across the street from Bank of America’s headquarters on Sept. 15, 2008, in Charlotte, N.C.

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