Georgia’s lieutenant governor threatened to block any tax legislation that would benefit Delta if the airline failed to reverse its decision to end a partnership with the National Rifle Association.
Delta, which is based in Atlanta, announced Saturday morning on Twitter that it was withdrawing from an agreement to provide discounted travel for NRA members attending the pro-gun group’s annual meeting. With the decision, it joined a growing number of companies including fellow airline United that have decided to rescind discounts or other offers for NRA members following the Feb. 14 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla. that killed 17 educators and students.
Georgia Lt Gov. Casey Cagle, who is running for governor as a Republican this year, pushed back against Delta’s decision on Monday, saying in a tweet: “I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA. Corporation cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.”
The Monday tweet follows a longer statement from Cagle on Sunday that criticized corporations for cutting ties with the NRA. Cagle, who has earned an A+ rating from the NRA every year he has served in elected office, said companies should take different action than punishing the NRA.
“Like all Americans, I’m horrified by the mass shootings we’ve witnessed,” he said. “If corporate America wants to make a positive difference on gun violence, it should donate a portion of its profits to mental health treatments and school safety initiatives. They should put their money where their mouth is instead of engine in viewpoint discrimination against conservatives and law-abiding gun owners.”
Delta had hoped to that lawmakers would restore a sales tax exemption on jet fuel that lawmakers ended in 2015. The airline, which is one of the largest employers in Georgia, would be the prime beneficiary.
Cagle isn’t the only lawmaker threatening to kill the tax break. Other state legislators reacted to Delta’s Saturday tweet like Rick Jeffares, a candidate for lieutenant governor and former state senator, who tweeted that he is “leading the charge to let Delta know their attack on the NRA and our 2nd Amendment is unacceptable.” In the tweet, is a link to “end Delta’s $40 million tax break.”
The airline has since tried to downplay the move as politically neutral and not an attack on the NRA.
“Delta’s decision reflects the airline’s neutral status in the current national debate over gun control amid recent school shootings,” the company said in a statement. “Out of respect for our customers and employees on both sides, Delta has taken this action to refrain from entering this debate and focus on its business. Delta continues to support the 2nd Amendment.”