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Delta CEO says opposing new Georgia voting law "is about protecting the voices of our people"

Delta CEO on Georgia's election law
Delta CEO on controversial comments about new voting law, booking passengers back in middle seats 07:24

Delta CEO Ed Bastian is standing by his airline's latest statement criticizing Georgia's new voting law after the state legislature's Republican-dominated House voted to strip the company of tax breaks it receives in the state.

Speaking to "CBS This Morning" Thursday, Bastian said he was "not going to respond" to the state House's apparent retaliation.

"This is something that's more than money, this is about protecting the voices of our people," he said. "Here in Atlanta, we've got a very, very large Black employee base. Almost universally, they are hurt by the law and the legislation that was enacted."

The sweeping law imposes new restrictions on voting that critics say are designed to suppress the vote in low-income and non-White communities.

Georgia is the first state to pass changes to its voting laws since the 2020 presidential election, which was followed by false accusations of voter fraud from former President Trump and his Republican allies. More than 40 other states are now considering similar legislation.

Delta's new statement Wednesday called the legislation "unacceptable" with Bastian writing to employees that "the entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie."

The airline originally faced boycott threats and criticism after Bastian previously supported parts of the law Friday, saying it had "improved considerably" from its original form.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said Bastian's new statement "stands in stark contrast to our conversations with the company" and "ignores the content of the new law."

Bastian said Thursday his initial statement was taken out of context.

"We were not supporting the bill, we were supporting the fact that we were exiting toxic provisions of proposed legislation," he said, repeating the company's goal to "ensure that voter rights are protected."

Bastian also challenged Kemp's assertions that the airline blindsided him and said that discussions between Delta and the state about the law did not end up in the result Bastian expected.

"As the process unfolded, it was moving quickly. There were a lot of changes," he said. "Our team was in there, absolutely expressing our points of view, making significant improvements."

Bastian continued, "But when we got a chance to finally see it all put together and had a chance to digest it as well as listen and hear from the voices of our people about it, we realized that this was restricting their access, our people's access, particularly in the Black community."

In addition to Delta, Coca-Cola and JPMorgan have also condemned the new law.

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