Corporate PACs and industry trade have given more than $108 million to election objectors in Congress who voted against certifying the 2020 election results, according to a new OpenSecrets analysis of campaign finance reports.
Many corporations that vowed to suspend or reevaluate PAC giving to election objectors resumed making PAC donations to the so-called Sedition Caucus” within weeks or months of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to the new analysis, which was first reported by the New York Times.
Over 1,400 business PACs, which include corporate PACs and industry trade groups, poured more than $91.4 million of that into political contributions directly to the campaigns of election objectors. Corporate PACs and industry trade groups added about $16.7 million more to the coffers of leadership PACs affiliated with those same members of Congress.
Major corporations that have since resumed corporate PAC giving to election objectors include: AT&T, Boeing, Comcast, Home Depot, Lockheed Martin, Marathon Petroleum, Pfizer, Raytheon, SpaceX, Union Pacific, UPS, Verizon and Walmart.
The American Bankers Association, which paused contributions after the Jan. 6 attack, was the top contributor to election objectors in the first three quarters of 2023, followed by the National Association of Realtors and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
These PACs are not necessarily donating funds exclusively to election objectors. Instead, most of the corporate PACs spread money around with little discrimination. Many of the top corporate contributors to election objectors give to Democrats as well as Republicans. As companies often strive to appear politically impartial, several of the top contributors to election objectors have given about evenly to politicians on both sides of the aisle.
About 70% of contributions from the American Bankers Association’s PAC, which gave election objectors over $430,000 in the first three quarters of 2023, have benefited Republicans in recent cycles.
The National Auto Dealers Association, which gave over $203,000 to election objectors in the first three quarters of 2023, similarly gives around 70% of its PAC contributions to Republicans.
UPS, which gave about 60% of its PAC contributions to Republicans in recent years, gave $164,500 to election objectors in the same period.
The PAC of the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, which gave $194,000 to election objectors in the first three quarters of 2023, also leans slightly right with their PAC contributions but have histories of giving to Democrat and Republican politicians.
The National Association of Realtors, the second highest overall contributor to election objectors during the first three quarters of 2023, has given about evenly to Democrats and Republicans in recent election cycles — meaning the election objectors were just a few names on a long list of the trade association’s beneficiaries. In some prior cycles the real estate trade group’s PAC has given more to Democrats while in other cycles it has given more to Republicans.
Boeing’s corporate PAC steered over $345,000 to election objectors in the first three quarters of 2023, more than any other company. But the aerospace giant has supported both Democrats and Republicans in recent years. While its PAC has given more to Republicans most recent cycles, it has also given more to Democrats in some prior cycles.
Following a similar trend, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association — which ranked third in giving to election objectors during the same period with $272,000 in PAC contributions has given slightly more to Republicans in recent years but gave more to Democrats in some prior cycles. Lockheed Martin’s PAC also generally gives slightly more to Republicans but sometimes gives more to Democrats.
AT&T’s PAC has also given about evenly to Democrats and Republicans in recent election cycles but leans slightly Republican.
Comcast, which made $192,000 in PAC contributions to election objectors since Jan. 6, has given about evenly to politicians of both parties in recent cycles. SpaceX and Honeywell International have also given roughly the same amounts to politicians of both parties in recent cycles.
Koch Industries is another major contributor to election objectors that has also predominantly given to Republicans, but the Koch brothers’ energy company has a more complicated relationship with former President Donald Trump. The Kochs saw some key policy wins under the Trump administration but also clashed with the former president on several issues during his time in the White House and announced in 2023 that stopping Trump would be a key goal of their 2024 political strategy.
But that tension did not stop Koch Industries from continuing to give to members of Congress who voted against certifying 2020 election results after the Jan. 6 attack, with the company contributing $166,000 to election objectors in the first three quarters of 2023 alone. AFP Action, a super PAC affiliated with Americans for Prosperity that is predominantly funded by the Koch’s political network and Koch Industries, spent millions more to support election objectors during the same period.
Election Objectors Continue to Rake in Corporate PAC Cash in 2023
Members of Congress who opposed certification of 2020 presidential election results received over $35 million in campaign and leadership PAC contributions from PACs affiliated with corporations and industry trade groups representing business interests in the first three quarters of 2023.
Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) received more campaign and leadership PAC money from PACs affiliated with corporations and business trade groups than any other election denier’s campaign during the first three quarters of 2023.
Business PACs collectively steered over $2 million to Smith during that period with about $1.5 million to his campaign and nearly $470,000 to his leadership PAC.
Smith has already received $10,000 from more than a dozen companies during the 2024 election cycle. Corporate PAC contributors that have maxed out to Smith this cycle include American Crystal Sugar, Cigna, CVS Health, Deere & Co., Qualcomm and Toyota.
Trade associations whose PACs maxed out to Smith include the National Structured Settlements Trade Association, the National Council of Farmer Co-Ops, the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts and the National Association of Enrolled Agents.
Several other election objectors supported by the business PACs have also announced their retirement or were voted out of office in the 2022 midterms, but many are also running for reelection in 2024.