After thousands of right-wing militants descended on the Capitol on January 6 two years ago in support of former President Donald Trump, hundreds of corporations made pledges to pause or stop donations to lawmakers who voted just hours after the attack to overturn the results of the 2020 election. But those corporations restarted such donations shortly after, and PACs affiliated with over 70 corporations have now showered those lawmakers with millions of dollars, a new analysis finds.
According to an analysis of campaign finance filings by Politico, dozens of corporations that pledged to stop donating to election objectors have given them over $10 million in the past two years. The companies that haven’t resumed political giving were ones that generally didn’t participate in the practice even before the attack.
Corporations that resumed giving despite their pledges include major defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon, which each gave over $100,000 and are slated to get hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts due to the record-high defense budget passed by Congress this year. Other major companies that gave over $100,000 include Home Depot, Marathon Petroleum, Pfizer, UnitedHealth Group, Verizon and Walmart.
These donations often fly under the radar, especially since giving through corporate PACs offers companies a level of obscurity. This allows companies to reap the public relations boost of appearing to denounce the far right attack, while still allowing them to sway politicians and potentially affect policies in a way that benefits them.
“So many corporations sought recognition for halting political spending after January 6, then quietly reopened the money spigot to election deniers when they thought no one was paying attention,” said Jeremy Funk, media relations director for Accountable.US, to Politico. “Companies that claimed to be allies for democracy then rewarded millions to lawmakers that tried to finish what the insurrectionists started have shown they were never serious.”
These donations flowed as the House underwent its explosive investigation into January 6, which revealed the ties between the attackers and Donald Trump, and the roles of dozens of Republicans in Congress in stoking and helping to organize the attack. The attack, along with Republicans’ anti-democratic crusades over the past two years, has revealed the thread of fascism that runs deep among the party, which will likely continue to grow with the financial backing of these corporations.
Overall, $10 million is a fraction of the $350 million that Republicans raised during the 2022 election cycle — but some donations could have had a major impact on individual races. The report finds, for instance, that Republican leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) raised $285,000 from companies that pledged to stop giving to election objectors, despite the fact that he voted to overturn the election on January 6, 2021.
This figure may represent just the tip of the iceberg, as companies are often able to hide their political giving through loopholes that have led to the explosion of dark money donations, which reached a record high in this election cycle.
Overall, election objectors are doing fine among corporate donors. Throughout the 2022 election cycle, OpenSecrets found that corporate PACs and industry trade groups gave over $61 million to leadership PACs and campaigns for election objectors, with over $52 million going directly toward campaign contributions.
The top contributor to election objectors was the National Association of Realtors, which gave $1.2 million in 2022. Other groups, like Koch Industries, Home Depot and UPS, gave hundreds of thousands of dollars each.
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