Some of the top asset managers in the U.S. on Wednesday joined hundreds of corporations, executives, and celebrities in releasing a statement in opposition to “any discriminatory legislation” that would restrict access to voting.
T. Rowe Price, Vanguard, and BlackRock all signed on to the statement, which said, “Voting is the lifeblood of our democracy and we call upon all Americans to join us in taking a nonpartisan stand for this most basic and fundamental right of all Americans.”
Goldman Sachs, Bain, AIG, and Cambridge Associates also signed the statement, as well as private equity firms Warburg Pincus and Berkshire Partners and several venture capital firms. Capital Group CEO and Chairman Tim Armour also signed the statement, though his company was not a signatory. Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett was another signatory.
The statement appeared in print advertisements Wednesday in The New York Times,The Washington Post, and other major newspapers.
It’s the latest display of corporate backlash against Republican-backed bills in numerous state legislatures across the country that advocates say will make it harder for minorities and poor people to vote.
Tension between the Republican party and the business community has built since last month, when the Republican governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, signed into law an election bill that President Joe Biden has called “a blatant attack on the Constitution.” In an analysis of the law, CNNreported that it “imposes significant new obstacles to voting.”
Ken Chenault, former American Express CEO, and Ken Frazier, chief executive of Merck, both of whom are Black, organized a group of Black executives who called on companies to denounce the bill last month and oppose other restrictions on voting. Some executives from asset managers had joined Chenault and Frazier in their original call for corporate opposition to restrictive voting laws. Mellody Hobson, co-CEO and president of Ariel Investments, and Robert Smith, founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, were members of their original coalition.
Other state and local legislatures are also considering restrictive legislation, prompting Wednesday’s sweeping statement from some of the biggest companies in the world. As of March 24, there were more than 350 bills with restrictive voting provisions introduced in 47 states, according to the nonpartisan policy institute Brennan Center for Justice.