Delta Air Lines announced early Saturday morning that it would end its discount program with the National Rifle Association, but within days, Georgia’s Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle threatened to oppose a lucrative, $38 million tax break for the airline – a decision defended by Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
“These are political issues,” Paxton told FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto on Wednesday. “And if Delta’s making their political decision based on what they think is their best decision, certainly the state of Georgia and the lieutenant governor has his right to do the same thing.”
It’s the latest in the fallout from the Parkland, Florida, school shooting on Valentine’s Day that left 17 people, mostly students, dead. Since then, a number of prominent U.S. companies have announced their decision to sever ties with the NRA, which has been outspoken against any form of gun control since the massacre.
Cagle, who is one of the top contenders to replace Republican Gov. Nathan Deal in the April gubernatorial election, wrote on Twitter that he would kill any tax legislation benefiting Delta unless the company reversed its position and reinstated its relationship with the NRA. The lieutenant governor had earlier boasted about the A+ rating that he received from the NRA every year since serving in elected office.
Now, other states, including New York, Virginia, Ohio and Alabama, are courting Delta, which is one of Georgia’s largest private employers.
“If Georgia politicians disagree with your stand against gun violence, we invite you to move your headquarters to New York,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote on Twitter. He was echoed by other state leaders.
If Delta decided to follow through on those offers and leave Atlanta, it would be a legitimate response to Cagle’s threat, Paxton said.
“It’s totally within the discretion of a legislature to make that decision, and they have to suffer whatever consequences there are for making that decision. Maybe Delta decides to move out of the state of Georgia,” he said. “Those are decisions that any state can make.”