Delta CEO Blasts ‘Unacceptable’ GA Voting Law After Initial Muted Opposition

Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Airlines takes part in a group debate at the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) annual general meeting (AGM) in Dublin, Ireland on June 2, 2016. Air France-KLM's CEO and Chairma... Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Airlines takes part in a group debate at the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) annual general meeting (AGM) in Dublin, Ireland on June 2, 2016. Air France-KLM's CEO and Chairman, Alexandre de Juniac, announced his departure on April 5, 2016, to take charge of aviation industry group IATA by the end of July 2016. / AFP / Paulo Nunes dos Santos (Photo credit should read PAULO NUNES DOS SANTOS/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
March 31, 2021 11:19 a.m.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian issued a companywide memo on Wednesday criticizing the “unacceptable” new Georgia voting law, following mounting backlash over the executive’s statement last week saying that the bill had “improved considerably during the legislative process.”

In a letter sent to employees on Wednesday, Bastian said that although Delta and other major Atlanta corporations had “some success in eliminating the most suppressive tactics that some had proposed,” he needed to make his opposition to the law more direct.

“I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values,” Bastian said. “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.”

Bastian indicated that he reversed course from the company’s previous muted opposition after having time to fully consider the the provisions of the bill, which included engaging in conversations with leaders and employees in the Black community.

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“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,” Bastian said. “That is wrong.”

Bastian further took aim at Georgia’s new voting law by arguing that it was based on falsehoods of widespread voter fraud in the battleground state in the 2020 presidential election.

“This is simply not true,” Bastian said. “Unfortunately, that excuse is being used in states across the nation that are attempting to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights.”

Bastian concluded that Delta will make good on its commitment to protect voting rights by working with leaders across the aisle in states nationwide. Bastian added that the company will also keep the John Lewis Voting Rights Act in Congress on its radar.

“I know this result in Georgia has caused frustration, anger and pain for many members of our Delta family,” Bastian said. “I commit to you that as we move forward, Delta will continue to do everything in our power to hear and protect your voice and your rights, both in Georgia and nationwide.”

A Delta spokesperson declined to comment beyond the memo itself when asked by TPM.

Bastian’s initial statement shortly after the passage of the new Georgia voting law last week prompted a #BoycottDelta social media trend. Delta’s tweet promoting its flights to Iceland was bombarded with responses related to the company’s lack of condemnation for the state’s voting law.

Bastian’s public criticism of the new Georgia law comes amid major corporations based in the state seeming all too eager to avoid political controversy by dutifully releasing statements about the new law, but falling short of condemning it.

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