Delta CEO blasts Georgia voting law as ‘unacceptable’ and ‘based on a lie’ after backlash

Edward Bastian, chief govt officer of Delta Air Lines Inc., speaks throughout an interview in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019.

Christopher Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian on Wednesday blasted a controversial GOP-backed Georgia voting law after going through backlash on social media for not popping out strongly sufficient towards the brand new guidelines.

The invoice, signed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp final week, is about to require identification for absentee voting, restrict poll drop containers and prohibit providing meals or water to voters in line. President Joe Biden called the bill “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”

“Last week, the Georgia legislature passed a sweeping voting reform act that could make it harder for many Georgians, particularly those in our Black and Brown communities, to exercise their right to vote,” Bastian said in a staff memo Wednesday.

“Since the bill’s inception, Delta joined other major Atlanta corporations to work closely with elected officials from both parties, to try and remove some of the most egregious measures from the bill,” Bastian wrote. “We had some success in eliminating the most suppressive tactics that some had proposed. However, I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.”

“The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections. This is simply not true,” Bastian mentioned. “Unfortunately, that excuse is being used in states across the nation that are attempting to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights.”

Bastian’s feedback come as a host of different executives slammed the new law and a number of Black CEOs urged chief executives to oppose efforts to limit voting entry.

“As the voting legislation that was put forward in Georgia, when we looked at it, we felt based on our knowledge of the political climate here, there was no chance that that bill was going to be eliminated altogether,” Bastian instructed employees Tuesday in a video message, which was reviewed by CNBC.

He mentioned Delta, which is predicated in Atlanta, labored to push legislators to make modifications to enhance the invoice.

“I know many of you are disappointed, frustrated and angry that we did not take a stronger public stand against specific measures in the bill,” Bastian mentioned. “Unfortunately, the reality is that would have made it much harder to shape the legislation at all and we would have lost a seat at the table.”

Bastian added he knew employees needed to face questions from clients concerning the firm’s stance.

Last week, Bastian mentioned the Georgia voting law had “improved considerably during the legislative process,” prompting requires a boycott of Delta on social media.

Georgia’s Kemp shot again on Wednesday.

“At no point did Delta share any opposition to expanding early voting, strengthening voter ID measures, increasing the use of secure drop boxes statewide, and making it easier for local election officials to administer elections — which is exactly what this bill does.

“The final time I flew Delta, I needed to current my photograph ID,” Kemp said in a statement. “Today’s assertion by Delta CEO Ed Bastian stands in stark distinction to our conversations with the corporate, ignores the content material of the brand new law, and sadly continues to unfold the identical false assaults being repeated by partisan activists.”

Delta declined to comment further or specify which parts of the bill it tried to change.

— CNBC’s Kevin Stankiewicz contributed to this text.

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