Three companies say they will no longer donate to pro-Trump advocacy group
Posted June 1, 2018 1:44 p.m. EDT
Updated June 4, 2018 12:12 p.m. EDT
(CNN) — Three companies say they will no longer donate to America First Policies, a nonprofit group that works to promote President Donald Trump's agenda, after CNN and other outlets reported racist comments made by staffers of the organization.
MapLight, a nonpartisan research group that tracks the influence of money in politics, reported on Thursday that three companies -- CVS Health, Southern Company, and Dow Chemical -- have donated a combined $1.6 million to America First Policies.
In a statement to CNN, Carolyn Castel, a spokesperson for CVS Health said, "Comments made by employees of America First Policies that were reported after we made our contributions are unacceptable to us. We have zero tolerance for discriminatory actions or behaviors, and as such we will not be making contributions to this organization in the future."
Castel went on to say that CVS Health contributes to organizations across the political spectrum and that its contributions to America First were made in support of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
CVS Health said the $500,000 donation came before it was aware of comments by America First Policies' director of advocacy, Carl Higbie and others.
Dow Chemical said later on Friday that it too would no longer donate to America First Policies.
"Dow was not aware of any discriminatory actions by staffers at America First Policies. The Company does not support organizations that demonstrate discriminatory language and/or actions and will not contribute to America First Policies going forward," said Jarrod Erpelding, a spokesman from Dow.
"Dow actively participates in policymaking and political processes, including political contributions to candidates, parties and causes, in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws. Dow maintains and is committed to the highest standard of ethical conduct in all such activity. Respect for people is one of Dow's core values. We do not tolerate discrimination in any form."
Schuyler Baehman, a spokesperson for Southern Company, told CNN on Monday that the company would no longer support America First Policies.
CNN reported in January that Higbie has a history of making racist, sexist, Islamophobic and anti-LGBT comments. Some of his more inflammatory statements were that the "black race" had "lax" morals and that Americans should be allowed to shoot undocumented immigrants crossing the border with Mexico.
Following CNN's January report, Higbie resigned from his position as chief of external affairs for Corporation for National and Community Service, which manages volunteer services for the federal government. He joined America First Policies in March.
Higbie initially apologized for his remarks but later defended them and said they were taken out of context.
John Loudon, a policy adviser for the group, has also made inflammatory comments about Muslims and women, CNN's KFile reported in May, such as calling Barack Obama "the Islamchurian candidate" and joking about "crack whore Dem voter."
In May, Mediaite reported that Juan Pablo Andrade, another America First Policies adviser, praised Nazis and said that, "The only thing the Nazis didn't get right is they didn't keep f***ing going!" Andrade claims the video is out of context and he was quoting someone else. He has said he is looking for the full video, which would exonerate him.