Did Companies Follow Through on Their Pledge to Reassess Political Donations After Jan. 6?

Corporate Donations to Election Objectors Despite Pledges to Halt Giving

After a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, many businesses and trade groups condemned the attack and pledged to review and shift their approach to political giving, including by halting donations to candidates who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election.

Business Community’s Response

President Biden has framed the 2024 presidential election as a battle for American democracy. The same day, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner, of a Colorado court decision removing him from the state’s Republican primary ballot because of his actions surrounding the riot.

However, the business community has not exerted the huge financial pressure on election-denying candidates and groups that the initial flood of condemnations and pledges in 2021 may have suggested, according to new data.

Corporate Political Action Committees Still Giving Millions

Corporate political action committees (PACs) continue to give millions to election objectors. Hundreds of business and trade association PACs contributed over $108 million to campaigns and committees linked to members of Congress who insisted that the election had been stolen from Trump. This is according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission data from Jan. 6, 2021, through September by Open Secrets, a campaign finance research nonprofit.

The political watchdog Accountable.US found that overall donations from Fortune 500 companies and about 700 trade associations to election objectors in Congress decreased only about 10 percent — or around $3.7 million — in the 2022 election cycle compared with 2020. And more than 250 companies and industry groups increased donations to those lawmakers after they tried to undermine the election.

Hidden Donations

The corporate PAC numbers show what the companies are openly disclosing — so although they do not reveal the whole donation picture, they are meaningful. “Companies also route funds through trade associations, super PACs and even dark money groups that can ultimately be used to benefit election deniers,” says Anna Massoglia, investigations manager at Open Secrets.

Resuming Giving and Justification

Some companies that have resumed giving to various groups that tried to undermine the 2020 presidential election have defended the move by saying they give on a bipartisan basis. For example, General Motors said in 2021 when it gave to the Republican State Leadership Committee after having signed a statement objecting to voting rights restrictions: “Support for these organizations does not represent an endorsement for all issues that the organization supports.”

Other Forms of Political Involvement

Money is not the only political tool available to businesses. Jen Stark, co-director of the Center for Business and Social Justice, recommends that companies demonstrate civic engagement, as well as election and poll work. Companies could make it easy for employees to get involved by giving them information and time to participate.

The nonprofit Leadership Now has worked with companies on initiatives at the state and federal level, including filing amicus briefs, lobbying for voting rights legislation and supporting reforms to strengthen the election process. Daniella Ballou-Aares, the group’s founder and C.E.O., said businesses should be proactive and worried about the potential for violence and social unrest ahead.

Paul Tagliabue, a lawyer and former N.F.L. commissioner who has been working with Leadership Now and other groups to involve business leaders in election efforts, says the formula is to “educate, empower and engage.”

Read More of this Story at www.nytimes.com – 2024-01-08 13:15:00

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