“We have your back,” Bank of America says in a new video about the coronavirus. “We’re in it together.”
But while Bank of America and other companies present a supportive face, some are working behind your back to make it harder to seek justice for corporate wrongdoing related to the coronavirus.
Corporate lobbyists — including former top aides to Sen. Maj. Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — have been quietly working to curtail the legal rights of Americans regarding coronavirus. Disclosure forms show that lobbyists for individual companies and the biggest corporate lobbyist in the country have been pursuing legislative and regulatory restrictions with Congress, the White House, and federal agencies.
At stake are the rights of individuals to seek justice, or at least money, if they get coronavirus due to employer negligence; to sue banks for steering federal relief money to their existing customers; and to blow the whistle on companies that use relief money to enrich themselves.
At the moment, corporate America seems to be winning. McConnell said Monday that any new relief must shield business owners from legal liability for their actions. Pres. Trump has said he is planning to exempt companies from liability for their actions, to facilitate them reopening.
While McConnell has been the public face for this drive, corporate America has deployed an army of lobbyists, including McConnell’s former lieutenants, to make it happen. Leading that army is the nation’s most powerful corporate lobbyist, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.