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Despite January 6 Pledges, Companies Begin Donating to Republicans Again

Companies like UPS, Duke Energy and others have broken the spirit of their pledges not to give to election objectors.

An American Airlines plane taxis to the runway at the Miami International Airport on June 16, 2021, in Miami, Florida.

Early this year, dozens of corporations pledged to pause or review their political donations after a pro-Trump crowd attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and 147 Republicans in Congress voted to overturn the 2020 election results the same day.

Despite these pledges, many companies have now resumed such donations — and now, half a year after the attack, the list of companies making donations, some in violation of their own pledges, is growing.

American Airlines, for instance, gave Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri) $2,500 in June, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings analyzed by The Washington Post. Graves objected to the certification of electoral votes in the 2020 election and issued a statement with other Missouri Republicans saying that they had to “protect the integrity of each vote cast” in the state by voting to overturn the election results.

The air travel company had pledged in January to pause all political donations. When the company restarted donations, an American Airlines spokesperson said, it would choose lawmakers who support aviation and “our values, including bringing people together.”

American Airlines isn’t alone in resuming donations to the group of election objectors, however. Judd Legum of Popular Information has chronicled many companies that, according to new FEC filings, have resumed such donations, potentially breaking their own pledges.

Companies like Cheniere Energy, General Motors, Lockheed Martin, Ameren, Ford and Delta Air Lines have resumed giving to Republicans who voted to overturn election results, according to Legum.

Many companies who had pledged to pause donations have not only resumed giving to the election objectors, but have also given generously or to multiple lawmakers.

UPS, for instance, in June gave $10,000 to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and $5,000 to Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter (R-Georgia), both of whom voted to overturn the election results.

UPS had indefinitely suspended all political contributions after January 6, and a spokesperson for the company defended the donations, The Washington Post reported, saying “Engagement with those with whom we disagree is a critical part of the democratic process and our responsibility in legislative advocacy as a company.”

Duke Energy also sent out large donations to election objectors in June, sending $10,000 each to Representatives Will Timmons (R-South Carolina) and Tom Rice (R-South Carolina) and $5,000 to Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-South Carolina). Duke Energy also gave generous donations to Republicans in May, including another $10,000 to Timmons and other GOP objectors like McCarthy and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana).

Duke Energy issued a statement after January 6 pledging to pause donations, though only for 30 days. “We were shocked and dismayed by the events at the Capitol last week. Duke Energy is taking this very seriously and taking a pause on all federal political contributions for 30 days.”

Lockheed Martin, Aflac, Tyson, Boeing and Cigna have also given to several Republicans who voted to overturn election results despite pledges to pause donations, according to Legum.

Cigna’s donations are especially egregious, as it promised after January 6 that it would stop giving to politicians who “hindered the peaceful transition of power.” Yet they’ve given at least $14,000 recently to Republicans who objected to Biden’s win.

The large and growing list of corporations reneging on their promises shows that the pledges were likely more about publicity than principle. A report in June found that Toyota, for instance, leads corporations in giving to election objectors, with $55,000 in donations this year alone. At first, the company defended the donations, but announced Thursday it would be stopping such donations after a huge backlash from the public and the company’s shareholders.

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