A year ago, a number of corporations promised not to make contributions to elected officials who supported the insurrection. Many promised not to support state politicians behind voter suppression. Some reneged on their promises. Others were silent. And none made significant public changes to funding through harder-to-track intermediaries like the Chamber of Commerce, which had their own gulf between rhetoric and expenditures . Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld has a glass half-full perspective, noting that 78 percent of the companies have lived up to their pledges (at least with regard to direct contributions. He writes:
Of the top 10 corporate PACs by donations, none contributed to an objector’s campaign after Jan. 6. One company that did, Toyota, apologized after public outrage and recommitted to not funding objectors. Several of those 15 percent who appeared to renege seem to have largely been caught by a timing blip of having made the donation on Jan. 6 itself. It should be noted that a few companies that pledged not to donate to objectors did, however, contribute to GOP pools that may have diverted funds to objectors against those donors’ wishes. But overall, the numbers are remarkably reassuring.
Certainly, the objectors are feeling the pain. According to the Journal, “nearly 100 of the members who voted against certifying the election results and had comparable 2019 data reported receiving less money from corporate and industry PACs for their campaigns in the first half of the year compared with the first half of 2019.” That’s in line with a previous report that the 147 GOP legislators who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s victory saw an 80 percent drop in donations from corporate and industry PACs.
But a new report from Acccountable US tracks these corporate political contributions.
As the words “January 6” morphed from a date on the calendar to the invocation of an American tragedy, our democracy continued to face threats from Trump’s continued election fraud lies. By year’s end, over 30 state laws would be enacted making it harder for Americans to vote and a European think tank would label the U.S. a “backsliding democracy.” And despite all of this, corporations and trade groups still donated over $8.1 million to the 147 members of the Sedition Caucus ¹—the members of Congress who validated dangerous myths of voter fraud by objecting to election certification.
- What Pause?: After the insurrection, major corporate donations subsided for a single quarter but reached nearly $3 million in Q2 and Q3 respectively; given October’s total, Q4 is on pace to be the largest quarter of the year.
- Corporate Complicity: At least 85 percent of the corporations that we profiled—17 of the 20—are major contributors to the Sedition Caucus and either pledged to or publicly considered pausing or reviewing their political spending after the January 6 insurrection.
- Purported Values: At least 60 percent of the trade groups that we profiled —6 of the 10—have stated values on furthering diversity initiatives despite their political donations to the Sedition Caucus.
- Enemies Foreign but not Domestic: 100 percent of the defense contractors profiled—6 of the 6—claim to help protect the nation and people around the world, despite that they are major contributors to the members of Congress who voted to object to the 2020 electoral college vote, which helped incite the attack on the Capitol.
- Ties to Trump: At least 53 percent of the companies and trade associations profiled—16 of the 30—have connections to the conservative establishment or former President Trump.