Florida's Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis argued on "Cavuto: Coast to Coast" Tuesday that corporations - including Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, as well as Major League Baseball (MLB) - should not get involved in politics.
Patronis said that he wants to take his two young children to a baseball game without “getting a lesson on separation of power from corporate America.”
The Florida official made the comments following the announcement that MLB is moving the 2021 All-Star Game out of Georgia in protest of the state's new voting laws. The game is now reportedly headed to Colorado - which has some rules that are similar, if not even more restrictive.
The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that MLB will relocate the game to Denver’s Coors Field after pulling it from Atlanta over Georgia voting laws.
|KO||THE COCA-COLA CO.||59.82||-0.44||-0.73%|
|DAL||DELTA AIR LINES INC.||39.58||-0.32||-0.80%|
Delta and Coca-Cola are among the companies condemning Georgia's HB 531 -- the controversial election reform bill that Gov. Brian Kemp signed last month, after it passed in the Republican-controlled legislature.
Critics of the legislation have compared it to Jim Crow-era legislation, arguing that it puts Black voters at a disadvantage because it makes voting less accessible, though proponents of the law have argued that it offers more voting opportunities than those that were in place before the pandemic.
The law includes a number of measures that impact state voting rules, including required photo identification for absentee voting and a limited number of ballot drop boxes, which were put in place during COVID-19 for the 2020 General Election - limiting the early voting period for runoff elections.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian sent a notice to employees saying he wanted to "make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values."
"The right to vote is sacred. It is fundamental to our democracy, and those rights not only need to be protected but easily facilitated in a safe and secure manner," he wrote. "After having time to now fully understand all that is in the bill, coupled with discussions with leaders and employees in the Black community, it’s evident that the bill includes provisions that will make it harder for many underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives. That is wrong."
He added that the rationale for the law is "based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections."
"This is simply not true," he wrote. "Unfortunately, that excuse is being used in states across the nation that are attempting to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights."
Delta is based in Atlanta. Civil rights groups like Black Voters Matter and other activists called on other Georgia-based companies like Coca-Cola, Aflac and UPS to denounce the legislation.
Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO James Quincey issued a statement last month saying the company is "disappointed in the outcome of the Georgia voting legislation."
"Voting is a foundational right in America, and we have long championed efforts to make it easier to vote," Quincey said. "We want to be crystal clear and state unambiguously that we are disappointed in the outcome of the Georgia voting legislation. Throughout Georgia’s legislative session, we provided feedback to members of both legislative chambers and political parties, opposing measures in the bills that would diminish or deter access to voting."
Florida lawmakers are also looking to make changes to the way the state carries out its elections. Last month, a Florida House committee took up its own effort to rewrite vote-by-mail rules, as Republicans push to enhance “ballot security” even though there has been no concrete evidence of widespread problems. Democrats and voter rights advocates have argued that the election-related proposals would be costly and will make it harder for some Floridians to vote.
When asked if he's concerned if Florida could face a similar corporate backlash to changes to the state’s voting law Patronis, a fourth generation Floridian, noted that “it wasn’t that long ago that Florida was the laughing stock of the nation because of our challenges with our own election processes.”
“This past election cycle we were fast, we were effective, everyone who wanted to vote got a change to vote,” he continued. “But I don’t need Coca-Cola or Delta getting involved in my politics. I don’t need Major League Baseball getting involved in my politics.”
He acknowledged that Florida has been doing well overall in terms of attracting corporations because the state is “open for business” and “we don’t have civil unrest” or “the crazy lunatics leading states like New York or California does.”
He noted that hundreds of people move to the state of Florida every single day, primarily from northern states.
“We welcome them with open arms,” he said.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer, Morgan Phillips, Fox Business’ Audrey Conklin and the Associated Press contributed to this report.