With Donald Trump the likely nominee for the Republican party, anti-Trump protesters are turning up the heat on corporations that are sponsoring the GOP convention in Cleveland in July.
Now that Trump's last competitors have dropped out of the race, protesters are ramping up their efforts against corporate sponsorship at the convention. "Many of the corporations up to this point have tried to say, 'It’s about democracy,' or 'We don’t even know who the nominee is going to be,'" Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, a nonprofit civil rights group.
Now that Ted Cruz and John Kasich have dropped out, Robinson said, "This is the party for Donald Trump."
An online petition called "Stop sponsoring Donald Trump" started by Color of Change has nearly 180,000 signatures thus far.
"[Trump] is calling for mass deportation and surveillance of Muslim communities," Robinson said. "If corporations believe they can sponsor that and not impact their brands, they have not been paying attention to the number of growing Americans who are holding back their support of him."
Companies have scaled back their donations, though none have specifically mentioned Trump as the impetus.
Last week, Microsoft said it would not donate cash to the Republican convention. The tech company will still provide technology products and services.
"Since we began working with convention committees in 2000, the company has based our actions on three principles," Fred Humphries, Microsoft's corporate vice president of U.S. government affairs, explained in a blog post. "First, we act in a bipartisan manner and provide similar levels of support to both conventions. Second, we make a special effort, as do many companies in our industry, to provide the conventions with technology tools to help enable this part of the American democratic process to operate efficiently and accurately. And third, we do not endorse either political party or its nominee.
Robinson said he is "disappointed" in Microsoft's decision to provide "any resources to Trump's platform."
The Coca-Cola Company is donating significantly less to the Republican convention this year than the $660,000 it donated to the event in 2012. For this year's convention, it donated just $75,000.
"The presidential nominating conventions are made possible through the efforts of the local community’s host committee," a statement from a Coca-Cola spokesman to ABC News read. "Since the 1890s, the company and our local bottling partners have donated to the local host committees of both parties’ political conventions, regardless of the nominees. Our support helps the host committees run these large events and contributes to local economic development but does not represent an endorsement of any specific party or candidate. In 2015, a $75,000 contribution was made by the company to both the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee and Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee. The Coca-Cola Company is a nonpartisan business and does not endorse presidential candidates or nominees, nor do we endorse any specific party.”
Google, the official live-stream provider at the GOP convention in Cleveland, did not respond to a request for comment about the petition.
A spokeswoman for the convention's host committee said it has raised $56 million of its $64 million fundraising goal. The donors that have been announced include JobsOhio, the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. The other corporate sponsors will be released as part of filings with the Federal Election Commission and IRS after the convention.
In March, the Republican National Committee announced that AT&T will be the official provider for communications, video and technology. Last month, AT&T announced it will provide free admission to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to all guests during the convention.
“For many years, AT&T has assisted the national conventions of both major parties," a statement from an AT&T spokesman read. "Our expertise is communications, and we invest and prepare our network extensively for events like these. At the same time, we also recognize the important role both conventions play in the functioning of our democracy, and are proud to support them on an impartial basis.”
Robinson said his organization will continue its efforts nonetheless. "These are corporations that we think should be held accountable," Robinson said.