- Insider investigated the campaign finance records of Arkansas lawmakers who sponsored anti-transgender legislation.
- Several visibly LGBT-friendly companies, their agents, and franchise owners gave money to the laws’ sponsors.
- McDonald’s franchise owners and State Farm agents donated a combined $107,000 to the Arkansas legislators.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The franchisees and agents of companies like McDonald’s and State Farm directed vast sums to legislators that backed some of the most anti-LGBT legislation passed this year.
Arkansas was one of several states across the US that enacted legislation restricting trans women from playing on women’s sports teams during the 2021 legislative session and was the only state to pass legislation that aims to remove access to medical care and punish those who treat trans youth.
Insider pored through campaign finance records from the Arkansas Secretary of State for the 76 members of the Arkansas legislature who sponsored House Bill 1570 or Senate Bill 354. We then digitized the records to identify key corporate supporters and found that several corporations that position themselves as LGBT allies have agents, employees, and franchise owners that donated to the sponsors of Arkansas legislation using their company’s name and branding since 2018.
State Farm Insurance, for example, frequently takes part in local Pride Month events and proudly touts the company’s support on its website. State Farm public affairs specialist Michal Brower told Insider that the company does not donate directly to state legislators.
“State Farm does have a Federal PAC (SFF PAC), which allows our employees and agents to collectively provide funds to individual candidates across party lines,” Brower said. “The SFF PAC does not provide contributions to state-level candidates or legislators in Arkansas, past or present.”
But while the company itself did not send money to Arkansas legislators, several of its individual agents donated $72,000 through a separate political action committee: the Arkansas State Farm Association PAC. Two PAC officers did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
-State Farm (@StateFarm) June 8, 2021
Much like State Farm, McDonald’s also proudly positions itself as a supportive ally of the LGBT+ community through various digital campaigns and media sponsorships, but McDonald’s franchise owners donated a combined $35,000 to 52 of the sponsors of the anti-trans legislation since 2018 through the McDonald’s Local Owner Operators of Arkansas PAC.
The company promotes on its Diversity and Inclusion webpage that it received a perfect score in each of the last five years on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index. McDonald’s did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
LGBT advocates told Insider that corporate support on Pride Month is inadequate if the company continues to finance the sponsors of deleterious legislation.
“Corporations can’t celebrate Pride with us in June and expect us to look the other way if they fund anti-LGBTQ campaigns, legislators, and activist groups,” GLAAD Rapid Response Manager Mary Emily O’Hara told Insider. “Being a corporate ally means speaking up for what’s right and helping fight anti-LGBTQ discrimination all year long. It’s not just throwing a rainbow on some packaging one month out of the year.”