Corporate America is finding it can get messy when it steps into politics.
Why it matters: Urged on by shareholders, employees and its own company creeds, Big Business is taking increasing stands on controversial political issues during recent months — and now it's beginning to see the fallout.
- Companies are being criticized by the left, their employees and customers if they don't step up, the right for cutting off insurrectionists and being "too woke," and the left again if they withhold opinions on even more political flashpoints.
Republicans also find themselves in a mess of their own making.
- While they chastise and threaten the companies that have cut off political donations after the Jan. 6 Capitol assault, they're leading the charge against the Democrats' efforts to hike the corporate tax rate to pay for President Biden's $2.2 trillion infrastructure package.
The bottom line: Controversy is "a cost of doing business" these days, according to Doug Pinkham, the president of the Public Affairs Council.
- "You have to assume that you're going to get embroiled in a controversy just by staying involved in the issue," Pinkham told Axios. "And then it becomes a discussion about, you know, if we don't get involved in this issue, will we be embroiled in a very different controversy?"
- The American Conservative Union criticized Delta Air Lines for its competing statements on the Georgia voting law.
Driving the news: The tensions between Washington and Corporate America hit a boiling point this month as backlash over Georgia's imposition of voting restrictions intensified.
- Major League Baseball decided it would no longer host the All-Star Game in Atlanta, while Georgia-based Delta and Coca-Cola called the law unacceptable and at odds with their company values.
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) threatened “serious consequences” and warned companies "to stay out of politics." He later backed off those remarks but made clear he didn't think they were fairly representing political reality.
- High-profile Senate candidate and “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance then publicly suggested raising taxes on such "woke" companies.
Yes, but: Republican fury with Corporate America is not translating, so far, into a meaningful change in the standard Republican position on a major issue of the day: tax policy.
- Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told Axios on Tuesday he doesn’t think his frustration with many of these corporations will prevent him from opposing tax hikes. The interview followed his "open letter" to "Woke Corporate America" on Monday, which warned of a "day of reckoning."
- Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who told Biden on Monday he’s opposed to increasing the corporate tax hikes, separately told Axios: “We have a long history as a party, and as individuals, in working with various enterprises in our respective states, and I think they know where we stand."
- Neil Bradley, chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said: "I wouldn't expect that they would suddenly change their view about what's best for the country because of disagreements on unrelated issues."
What's next: Republicans largely see the corporate tax rate as a tax on others — investors, pensioners and customers. But there are a ton of other ways they can get even with companies that have taken them to task.
- Airlines rely on the government for tax treatment, route approval and infrastructure near their facilities. Manufacturers for trade policy. Shippers for tariff treatment. Revenge can come in many forms, deep inside legislation.
- "The level of political sophistication for Fortune 500 companies is going to have to increase exponentially here and quickly," said a GOP consultant who advises large firms in D.C.
- "The business community writ large is probably two to four years from being in the same position as the tech industry," the consultant added, referring to recent bipartisan backlash against Silicon Valley. "The Rob Portmans are retiring. You're going to have more Josh Hawleys."
Despite the separation between church and state, the federal government depends upon religious shelters to help it cope with migration at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Why it matters: The network supports the U.S. in times of crisis, but now some shelter leaders are complaining about expelling families to Mexico when they have capacity — and feel a higher calling — to accommodate them.
- "They're human beings. They're here in my community, and they need help," said Sister Norma Pimentel, who runs Catholic Charities in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas.
- Axios interviewed Sister Norma after a visit to the Southwest that included stops on both sides of the border.
The big picture: Catholic and Protestant churches in both the United States and Mexico have built a network during the last few years to offer temporary shelter to migrants. Volunteers help them arrange travel plans, provide them food and offer donations of clothes and toiletries.
- Migrants at a shelter in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, told Axios that church-based shelters gave them temporary housing along the way and suggested names of places should they make it to the U.S.
- Only two of more than a dozen shelters in Ciudad Juárez are government-run — most are run by religious groups.
- U.S. churches have organized efforts to house migrant children 250 miles north near Santa Fe, New Mexico, with volunteers to speak in Spanish and Portuguese.
Organizers say that despite record migrant numbers this year, they are not as overrun as in 2019.
Why it matters: Ruben Garcia, director of Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas, expressed frustration the Biden administration continues expelling families to Mexico.
- He said his shelters are at low capacity by their standards, and there are newly opened hotels under contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for families.
What's happening: Sister Norma told Axios her shelters have been receiving 400 to 800 migrants from the Border Patrol each day, mostly parents and children.
- Despite that influx, "I haven't seen the numbers as high as 2019," she said, adding it may be because the Border Patrol presence is sending some migrants to other sections of the border.
A plane or two holding about 135 migrants who crossed in South Texas is being sent to other border areas like El Paso and Laredo, Texas, and San Diego, California, each day, Garcia explained.
- Annunciation House shelters take in 30 to 35 of those migrants sent to El Paso, while the rest are expelled into Ciudad Juárez. Many expelled migrants do not understand where they are being sent.
- Garcia doesn't know how the ratio was decided or who made the call. The lack of transparency about who is making decisions and why is"one of the most frustrating parts," he said.
Between the lines: Garcia talked about volunteers flying from all over the U.S. to help and read Axios texts from other organizations ready to assist.
- "I am writing to let you know that we are preparing to assist when you need to send buses our way," Garcia read from one advocate who represented five religious groups who also assisted in 2019.
- But there is also pushback. Sister Norma said that for weeks now, they have had 10 to 12 men protesting their work, accusing them of participating in human trafficking.
Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was shown kneeling on George Floyd's neck last year in a video that shook the nation, was found guilty of murder and manslaughter on Tuesday.
Yes, but: Eight years after the launch of the Black Lives Matter movement, it's still rare for police officersto face legal consequences or jail time over the deaths of Black people.
Here's where other high-profile police killings stand:
Wright, 20, was shot dead by then-officer Kim Potter in Brooklyn Center, Minn., this month during a traffic stop.
- Potter resigned from the department and has been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
- Law enforcement said Potter inadvertently pulled out her gun instead of a Taser.
Taylor, 26, was shot dead during a no-knock search on her home by three plainclothes Louisville Metro Police officers in March 2020. Her boyfriend, who fired back at police, says he believed their home was being robbed.
- Brett Hankison, one of the officers involved, was charged in September with wanton endangerment for firing shots blindly during the search. Activists argue that a charge directly related to Taylor's death is still needed.
- The two other officers who fired shots, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, received no charges. The FBI is still investigating the case.
- The Louisville Metro government agreed to a $12 million settlement package with Taylor's family. Taylor's death prompted cities and states nationwide to ban or limit the use of no-knock warrants.
Toledo, 13, was fatally shot last month by Chicago police officer Eric Stillman.
- The city's independent police review board recently released the body camera footage of the shooting.
- The shaky and grainy footage shows Toledo, who is Mexican American, had his arms at least partially raised when Stillman, who is white, fired a single round. Police, who were responding to reports of shots fired in the neighborhood, said Toledo had a handgun on him prior to the shooting.
- Stillman has been placed on administrative leave. Chicago's Civilian Office of Police Accountability and the Cook County state attorney's office are each investigating the incident.
Video of an Aug. 2020 encounter in Kenosha, Wis. showed white police officer Rusten Sheskey shooting Blake seven times in the back as Blake entered a vehicle with his children in the backseat. Blake was subsequently paralyzed.
- Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Gravely announced in January that Sheskey would not face charges.
McClain, 23, was taken off life support and subsequently died in Aurora, Colo. in Aug. 2019, after police put him in a chokehold and paramedics sedated him. The run-in resulted in McClain suffering from a heart attack and being declared brain dead.
- Three police officers were responding to a call about a suspicious person when they stopped McClain, who was walking home from a convenience store.
- An early investigation concluded that police did nothing wrong. But McClain's case was reassessed in 2020 following renewed attention.
- A later review found no legal basis for officers to stop, frisk or use a chokehold on McClain.
- Officers involved have been reassigned but no charges have been filed.
Prude, 41, died last year after being restrained by police in Rochester, New York. His family says he was experiencing a mental health crisis.
- Body-cam footage of Prude's arrest shows him naked, in the snowy street. Police put a mesh hood over his head and pinned him to the ground. Several minutes later, Prude lost consciousness. He was taken off life support a week later.
- A grand jury voted against charging three officers with criminally negligent homicide.
- New York Attorney General Letitia James released the grand jury transcripts this month — giving a rare glimpse of proceedings usually kept secret.
Go deeper: Convicting police officers is rare — even when caught on video.
The Senate voted 98-2 on Tuesday to confirm Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general for the Justice Department, making her the agency's second highest-ranking official.
Why it matters: Monaco is expected to play a key role in Attorney General Merrick Garland's pledge to crack down on violence from domestic extremist groups, including the department's sweeping investigation of the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Background: Monaco served as assistant attorney general for national security and White House homeland security and counterterrorism adviser under President Obama.
- She led reforms to the Obama administration’s response to the kidnappings of Americans by Islamic State fighters, mandating that victims' families be involved in the process, according to the New York Times.
- Monaco, who has experience with cybersecurity issues, is also expected to assist with the Biden administration's response to recent cyberattacks against the federal government and U.S. companies, including the massive SolarWinds breach by Russian-backed hackers that became public in December 2020.
The big picture: Monaco is viewed as a consensus-builder, according to the Times. She joins the DOJ at a moment when U.S. intelligence agencies warn that domestic terrorism motivated by political or racial bias poses an "elevated threat" to the nation.
A growing crowd outside the Hennepin County Government Center broke out into cheers, hugs and tears of relief as word of the Derek Chauvin verdict spread just after 4pm CST.
Catch up quick: Eleven months after George Floyd died under the former Minneapolis police officer's knee, a jury of 12 neighbors returned a guilty verdict on all three counts.
The big picture: Floyd's family and many activists believe that true justice would mean Floyd was still alive, but have said nothing short of a second-degree murder conviction would be an acceptable outcome.
- After weeks of testimony and about 10 hours of jury deliberations, they got what they wanted.
What remains to be seen: Whether this marks a more significant turning point for police accountability, given how rare convictions remain.
What's next: Sentencing, a likely appeal and the August trial of the other three officers lie ahead. Calls to address deeper issues with racial justice and policing will continue — both here and across America.
- Even as many celebrate the verdict, the broader community is still grappling with the police shooting of Daunte Wright just over a week ago.
Courteney Ross, Floyd's girlfriend at the time of his death, captured the hopes of many in our community in a CNN interview before the verdict was read:
- "I think it will mean change. It’s a first step in a long road to recovery. We have a lot of work to do in Minneapolis. But I believe Floyd came here for a reason. ... Maybe we are the epicenter for change. Maybe we are making the world look at things in a different way."
The bottom line: After weeks of anxiety, many across the metro will be hoping for closure, a step toward healing and relative calm.
"Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family": Nation reacts to Chauvin verdict
America is speaking out after the jury in Derek Chauvin's trial announced its guiltyverdict after about 10 hours of deliberation.
What they're saying...
Ben Crump, Floyd family lawyer: "GUILTY! Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family ... Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!"
Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus: "Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Andre Hill, Casey Goodson, Jr., Tamir Rice, and George Floyd should be alive, and no verdict will bring them back or undo the unimaginable heartache and loss their family, friends, and our communities have had to endure."
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.): "For a moment, we have a little bit of relief ... Now we need to focus on transforming policing in the United States."
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.): "While this outcome should give us renewed confidence in the integrity of our justice system, we know there is more work to be done to ensure the bad apples do not define all officers."
Hillary Clinton: "George Floyd's family and community deserved for his killer to be held accountable. Today, they got that accountability. Always and forever, Black lives matter."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.): George Floyd's name "is synonymous with justice and dignity and grace ... Unless we change the law, this will be an episode."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.): "If you are Black, you should feel comfortable about when you get in your car, not being shot by a police officer because your license was expired or your registration was expired. So there's a lot of work that has to be done."
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah): "I have trust in our justice system ... Obviously I’m pleased the temperature will hopefully be brought down a bit."
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.): "The jury recognized it for what it was ... It's not one verdict that will win trust back but takes a step towards justice."
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D): "True justice for George only comes through real, systemic change to prevent this from happening again. And the tragic death of Daunte Wright this week serves as a heartbreaking reminder that we still have so much more work to do to get there."
A jury on Tuesday found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd's death.
Why it matters: This rare conviction of a police officer may come to be seen as a defining moment in America's collective reckoning with issues of race and justice.
- Video of Chauvin holding his knee to Floyd's neck for more than 9 minutes as Floyd pleaded that he couldn't breathe sparked global protests.
The state of play: The verdict was announced after the jury deliberated for more than 10 hours.
What's next: A sentencing decision will be rendered in the coming weeks.
- Chauvin faces a likely sentence of up to 12 years behind bars, though the judge could go higher if jurors find aggravating factors.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
For more coverage of the decision, subscribe to Axios Twin Cities.
The European Super League is on the brink before it even manages to launch.
The state of play: Two key English teams — Chelsea and Manchester City — are reportedly preparing to exit just two days after the league announced its formation, ESPN notes.
The big picture: The league has been met with withering backlash.
- Roughly 1,000 Chelsea fans protested their club's inclusion ahead of today's Premier League game against Brighton.
When news broke of Chelsea's exit from the league, the fans jubilantly cheered, "We saved football!"
Between the lines: Players on the member clubs didn't know they'd be in the league before it was announced.
- "I can only say my personal opinion: I don't like it," said Liverpool's James Milner yesterday. "Hopefully it doesn't happen."
The bottom line: The league keeps the unfairness of the U.S. system, Axios' Felix Salmon wrote this morning, and takes away the elements that help to even things out.
- Soccer has seen no shortage of greedy owners buying trophies, but it's never been as brazen as this.