Companies clamoring for women’s dollars are making huge donations to politicians and political action committees specifically designed to tank legislation aiming to lift women and families out of poverty, according to new research obtained by Jezebel.
While Americans were watching Congress flounder negotiations to impasse for President Joe Biden’s still-hopeful signature legislation Build Back Better in 2021, corporations like Proctor & Gamble (P&G), Bayer, and Disney, who routinely tout their support for women, were spending millions to tank the legislation.
One of the most promising provisions of Biden’s Build Back Better plan is the Expanded Child Tax Credit. The six-month program feels like an American experience in empathy, lifting 3.7 million kids out of poverty before Congress let the program expire at the end of December. The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University found that nearly 4 million kids were pushed back into poverty the following month
The legislation also would expand daycare, pre-kindergarten, wages for low-income women, and more. P&G, Johnson & Johnson, Gap Inc., Abbott, Bayer, Target, Walmart, and Disney have spent more than $12.1 million lobbying against BBB and its policies.
“As women, especially women of color, navigate a fragile economic recovery, corporations can’t claim to be allies as they funnel money to enemies of investments that help women get ahead. Hypocritical companies should get right with their own stated values, or at least stop misleading their consumers, shareholders and employees about what they really value—amassing political influence,” Accountable.US President Kyle Herrig said in a statement to Jezebel.
It’s not revelatory to show that corporations value dollars made for shareholders above customers—or even the planet. But this small slice of research into eight major companies from nonpartisan watchdog organization Accountable.US shows just how hollow corporate messaging has gotten.
Research from nonpartisan watchdog organization Accountable.US provided exclusively to Jezebel found that P&G—which earns about 70 percent earnings from women and baby products—specifically gave to senators who at the time seemed to be on the fence as well as staunch opponents. In June, P&G gave $10,000 to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) for US Senate. The company would go on to spend nearly a $1 million on lobbying efforts that included specific lobbying against the BBB legislation, while continuing to make millions on products geared toward women and children.
At this same time, P&G was bragging about raising its cumulative donation to the Women’s Economic Future Fund to $1 million in honor of International Women’s Day.
Johnson & Johnson—a self-declared champion of women and possible cancer-giver—donated six figures to politicians who were publicly against BBB. After the vote killing the legislation was taken, Johnson & Johnson gave another $20,500 to those politicians. Like other companies studied, Johnson & Johnson spent $1.25 million lobbying against the legislation.
As Women’s History Month drags itself to a close, we must remember there’s no corporate action in public without money moves behind the scenes. Companies relay on our tiredness and the ease of shopping from box stores like Target and Walmart that stock brands like Bayer to keep their lobbying at the back of our minds. The work of companies like Disney and P&G allowed politicians to feel comfortable derailing legislation that could have led to material gains in people’s lives. It’s time we remember that.
Correction: A previous version of this story said Proctor & Gamble spent $1 million on lobbying efforts against Build Back Better. While the company did spend some of that money to lobby against the bill, it says the money also went toward other policy areas. The piece has been updated.