Quiet rising tide of corporate donations could be bellwether for 2022 midterms

Some of the country’s largest corporations have been increasing their donations to Republican lawmakers who voted not to certify the 2020 election results in some contested states, which means the self-imposed freeze on campaign cash following the Jan. 6 riot has largely ended.

“Less than a year after the Jan. 6 attack, PACs affiliated with Fortune 500 companies and their trade groups have contributed $6.8 million to the 147 Republicans who objected, according to a new analysis of campaign finance records from liberal watchdog group Accountable.US,” The Hill reported Tuesday.

The outlet went on to note that all major corporations ended their PAC giving following the riot. Such donations dried up completely in January while rising to just $28,000 in February. But since then, the corporate PACs have quietly ramped up donations, giving around $2.3 million to Republican objectors between September and October, The Hill added, citing the most recent data available.

It appears as though corporate CEOs have put a finger to the political wind and suspect Democrats are not going to be in control after Congress is sworn in on Jan. 3, 2023.

“Corporate America expressed concern about the state of U.S. democracy after supporters of former President Trump attempted to overturn the election results. But companies have signaled they don’t want to lose influence with the GOP, which is broadly favored to win back control of Congress in next year’s midterm elections,” The Hill reported.

“Corporations have shown they care more about cultivating political influence than maintaining a healthy democracy for their customers, employers and shareholders accountable,” said President of Accountable.US Kyle Herrig, the outlet reported.

The top PAC donor to the GOP objectors is the Credit Union National Association, which doled out around $177,000. That group was followed by the American Bankers Association, which represents industry majors including Bank of America and Wells Fargo, contributing $166,000.

Defense contractor General Dynamics gave around $162,000 to more than 50 Republican objectors and is the top donor among Fortune 500 companies. GD was followed by other defense contractors including Raytheon Technologies, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing. Shipping behemoth UPS also made the list of top donors.

“For a few weeks there, just after Jan. 6, there was this moment of clarity and a recognition that this is really dangerous both in the short and long term,” Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a Stetson University professor specializing in campaign finance law, told The Hill. “But I feel that a lot of the corporate PAC leaders just slid back to business as usual.”

That said, corporate CEOs were silent on why they pulled donations from Republicans who objected to certain state electoral votes but not from Democrats when they objected to results the previous three GOP presidential victories.

“Last week’s attempts by some congressional members to subvert the presidential election results and disrupt the peaceful transition of power do not align with our … values; therefore, the [American Express political action committee] will not support them,” American Express CEO Stephen Squeri said in a statement following the riot.

“Following last week’s awful violence in DC, we are pausing all of our PAC contributions for at least the current quarter, while we review our policies,” Facebook spokesperson Daniel Roberts added.

Hallmark Cards even asked GOP Sens. Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall, who voted in favor of certifying the results, to return the contributions the company had given them.

“But Democratic Reps. Jim McGovern, Jamie Raskin, Maxine Waters, Pramila Jayapal, Raul Grijalva, Sheila Jackson Lee and Barbara Lee voted to decertify the 2016 election results on Jan. 6, 2017 for several reasons including alleged Russian collusion,” The Daily Caller reported, citing a Politico story. “Although far fewer Democrats voted to decertify than Republicans following the respective elections, the Democrats objected to the results of more states.”

However, “corporations like American Express, Amazon, Hallmark and Facebook apparently continued making contributions to the seven Democrats and didn’t pause political activity,” the news outlet added.

Jon Dougherty


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