Six months after the parliamentary assault, corporate promises level off

Providence, Rhode Island (AP) — American companies opposed the lie that power the mob as the shock wave spread across the country from the January 6 riots at the US Capitol. Or it looked like that.

Dozens of big companies cite their commitment to democracy Avoid donations To 147 lawmakers who opposed Congress’s proof of Joe Biden’s victory Fraudulent voting stole elections From then President Donald Trump.

It was an impressive gesture by some of the most well-known names in business, but after all, it was an almost empty gesture.

Six months later, many of these companies resumed pouring cash into political action committees that would benefit legislators’ election efforts, whether or not they opposed election certification. When it comes to seeking political influence through corporate donations, the business will return as usual, even if it goes away.

Wal-Mart, Pfizer, Intel, General Electric and AT & T are one of the companies that have announced their commitments on behalf of democracy after Trump supporters attacked the Capitol with fierce bids to thwart the transfer of power.

The two companies argue that donating directly to a candidate is not the same as donating to a PAC that supports the candidate. Given America’s porous election funding law, it’s no different from an election funding expert.

In many cases nothing has changed, as the claims of both companies also largely obscure the fact that they made donations through the PAC before the pledge, rather than the individual.

“It doesn’t make much sense to swear not to give to a particular person if there are many other ways in which corporate money can reach elected officials,” said the Federal Election Commission, which currently works at the Brennan Center. Said Daniel Weiner, a former senior adviser to the. For Justice, NYU School of Law. “These pledges are primarily symbolic.”

Wal-Mart’s moral position lasted for three months. In January, a major retailer announced that it would stop all donations to 147 lawmakers who opposed the election results. But in April, the company donated $ 30,000 to the National Republican Parliamentary Commission, a party organization that supports the House Republican elections.

Two-thirds of those members of the House voted against proving Biden’s victory.

Wal-Mart has donated an additional $ 30,000 to the National Republican Senate Committee, a counterpart of the House Committee. The group is headed by Florida Senator Rick Scott, who opposes the recognition of the election. Senator Rick Scott has benefited from his contributions alongside seven other Republican Senators who have tried to overturn the will of voters. The Associated Press left a message for both committees that was not returned.

In January after the attack, General Electric said, “We will stop donating to lawmakers who voted against the certification.” But that wasn’t exactly what happened.

In April, General Electric donated $ 15,000 each to the Republican election groups in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Similarly, Pfizer has promised to suspend donations to Republican opponents for six months. But just three months later, he donated $ 20,000 to the Republican Senate group. Pfizer spokeswoman Sharon Castillo told AP that the company made a distinction between funding individual members and groups established to support the same members. “I don’t think it’s an accurate connection,” she said.

Still, she said Pfizer had not promised the Senate Election Commission that the company’s donations would not be used to benefit the eight senators who voted against the certification.

AT & T also promised not to give money to lawmakers who opposed it, but the company sent $ 5,000 to the House Conservatives Fund in February. The company’s spokeswoman, Margaret Balls, said the PAC was led by lawmakers who opposed the election results, but AT & T was guaranteed that no money would flow to those who opposed the election results.

Campaign finance experts say there is no way to know if the money given to the Republican PAC will go directly into the election account of incumbents who oppose the election results. These Republican committees, like Democratic committees, support incumbents in a variety of ways through direct donations and technical and professional support such as voter data, advertising, and voting support.

In addition, corporate donations to party committees do not include so-called dark money donations to groups that do not need to disclose details. Dark money is the preferred method of donating to businesses.

“It’s completely frustrating from an accountability standpoint,” said Ciara Torres Sperissy, a professor at Stetson University Law School, who studies corporate election funding.

Many of the lawmakers who opposed the accreditation have relied heavily on the Republican House and Senate election committees in the past and can expect to seek substantive support from them again.

In the 2020 elections, the NRCC later handed donations to 39 Republicans who opposed the election results, with 11 against. Overall, the January 6 opposition earned a total of five times more money last year than those who later voted to prove the state’s election tally.

Pfizer, GE, Wal-Mart, and other companies contacted by the AP said there were criticisms of lawmakers who opposed the election results.

For other companies, the pledge may be an ironic attempt to make it look good in the eyes of the general public. Some of the companies that made the pledge tended to make large donations to individual lawmakers anyway, favoring large party PACs and dark money groups.

Weiner said he would fund efforts to defeat Republican measures that make voting difficult in many states if companies are serious about using their influence to support democracy. Stated.

“I don’t think these companies are giving these groups because they supported the riots,” Weiner said. “They give money — and are pressured to give money — for many reasons all related to their bottom line.”

Some companies have adhered to their pledges. For example, Hallmark said it would not donate to opponents. According to previous records, the company has not donated PAC this year, nor has it made a direct donation to 147 opponents.

Hallmark also called on two opponents, Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri and Roger Marshall of Kansas, to return their direct contributions to them before the riots. These refunds are not yet visible in the election fund records. No message was returned asking for comment from the two senators.

Other companies have said they will suspend campaign donations after January 6 to give them time to reassess their campaign finance strategy. The list includes Charles Schwab, Citigroup, Archer Daniels Midland and Kraft Heinz.

Companies that promise not to support their opponents give Republican groups less money than the enormous amount given overall. Wal-Mart’s $ 60,000 donation to the Republican Senate and House Committee is only part of the company’s overall political spending on both parties, which exceeded $ 5 million last year.

Businesses often give Democrats and Republicans the same amount of money when trying to build good relationships with political parties in power. The company behind the pledge is no exception.

January 6th seemed to shake the calibration. Some faithfulness, as the violent image from the Capitol was so violent, the assault at the core of American democracy was so unusual, and the falsehood behind the attack was so bold. Republicans abandoned the president and accused the opposition.

Kentucky Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell If Opponents Give Way Said that noisy night, “Our democracy will enter the spiral of death.”

For some time, all but 147 appeared to be on the side of the angels, and the company struggled to embark on a pledge in favor of democratization. But the devil was in the details.


Washington Associated Press author Calvin Woodward contributed to this report.

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