Delta Airlines’ decision to cut its ties with the NRA may have unintended consequences for the company.
Georgia lawmakers are pushing back at Delta after it announced the end of its NRA discount on Saturday, threatening to scrap a proposed tax break that would save the airline $40 million if passed.
Delta made the announcement about its NRA discount, a reaction to this month’s deadly mass shooting in Florida, on Twitter.
Delta is reaching out to the NRA to let them know we will be ending their contract for discounted rates through our group travel program. We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from their website.
— Delta (@Delta) February 24, 2018
Former state Sen. Rick Jeffares, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, called on members of his party to reject the legislation.
If Delta is so flush that they don't need NRA members hard-earned dollars, they can certainly do without the $40 million tax break they are asking GA taxpayers for.
— Rick Jeffares (@RickJeffaresGA) February 24, 2018
“If Delta is so flush that they don’t need NRA members hard-earned dollars, they can certainly do without the $40 million tax break they are asking GA taxpayers for,” Jeffares wrote on Saturday.
The former lawmaker later tweeted that he is “leading the charge to let Delta know their attack on the NRA and our 2nd Amendment is unacceptable.”
I stand with the NRA & support our 2nd Amendment rights. Delta Airlines is now seeking $40 MILLION TAX BREAK from the GA Legislature. I’m leading the charge to let Delta know their attack on the NRA and our 2nd Amendment is unacceptable. #StandWithJeffareshttps://t.co/YQ16VcGch2 pic.twitter.com/1x256htX9u
— Rick Jeffares (@RickJeffaresGA) February 26, 2018
According to 11Alive, the jet fuel tax break that would greatly benefit Delta–whose headquarters is located in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport–passed in the state House last week and could reach the Georgia Senate floor as soon as this week.
Jeffares followed up his tweets with a statement to 11Alive.
“I have supported this tax break for Delta in the past but not this time. If Delta can afford to write off the travel business of all those folks, they clearly don’t need a special tax break from Georgians.”
The state’s current lieutenant governor, Casey Cagle, also took on the issue, vowing to “kill any tax legislation” benefiting Delta unless the company changes its stance on the NRA.
I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA. Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.
— Casey Cagle (@CaseyCagle) February 26, 2018
Delta responded to the backlash by saying that the “decision reflects the airline’s neutral status in the current national debate over gun control amid recent school shootings” and was made “out of respect for our customers and employees on both sides,” CNBC reports.
The airline also added that it “continues to support the Second Amendment.”
David Werner, a lobbyist for Delta, tweeted that the company’s NRA decision was its way of “removing its name from the debate.”
@Delta announcement this morning was not a political statement-it was the opposite. @Delta merely confirmed its neutral status on a politically and emotionally charged issue by removing its name from the debate.
— David Werner (@davidrosswerner) February 24, 2018
Jason Shepherd, chairman of the Cobb County Republican Party, told 11Alive he wasn’t accepting Delta’s explanation.
“By making the statement at the time that they did, when there is a controversy, it sends the message that they are taking sides in this debate,” Shepherd said.
“It’s giving a subsidy to a company at the same time that they’re basically saying to the people in the state of Georgia, all those who believe in the second amendment, we really don’t respect that right.”
State Sen. Michael Williams, a Republican candidate for governor who has opposed the tax break, told Politically Georgia:
“Delta isn’t even worried about insulting a huge portion of voters who belong to the NRA. They have their backroom deal in place & know the politicians can’t survive without their donations.”
Chris Riley, a top aide to Gov. Nathan Deal, said he and the governor “are assuming this decision was made by Delta to end their contract with all political groups in order to remain neutral.”
“Otherwise,” Riley concluded, “members may not trust our word moving forward!”