Corporate America pulls political donations after Capitol assaultJanuary 12, 2021
Many of the biggest corporate donors on Wall Street and across the US are reviewing their political spending after last week’s assault on the Capitol building, threatening to pull millions of dollars from lawmakers whose opposition to the presidential election result contributed to the unrest.
Banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup and the technology groups Facebook and Microsoft were among those suspending all donations from their political action committees, or PACs.
Others cut off funding only to the Republicans who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s election victory. Companies taking that step included AT&T, the largest public company donor to those lawmakers; Amazon, the ecommerce group; Dow, the chemical company; and American Express.
Dow said it would suspend PAC contributions to politicians who disputed the election results for a full election cycle, affecting members of the House of Representatives for up to two years and senators for up to six years.
Hallmark, the greetings card company, asked two of those senators to return its contributions, after giving $7,000 to Josh Hawley and $5,000 to Roger Marshall in the past two years. The two senators’ recent actions “do not reflect our company’s values”, it said.
In a memo to Amex employees, chief executive Stephen Squeri said the attempts by some members of Congress “to subvert the presidential election process” did not align with the credit card company’s values, so its PAC would no longer support them.
The Amex PAC had backed the campaigns of 22 House Republicans who opposed the election certification.
Morgan Stanley is also indefinitely halting contributions to those elected officials who voted against certifying the election results, said a person familiar with the bank’s decision.
Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, said he had never seen such an array of companies simultaneously questioning their political spending.
“We’re talking about millions of dollars of campaign contributions that are going to dry up,” he said, adding that the message the statements sent to lawmakers was as important as the sums involved. “If you’ve got Wall Street saying you’re too radical for us . . . that’s going to resonate,” he said.
Noting that several companies suspended donations to all candidates, Mr Holman described that approach as “safer [but] a little bit cowardly”.
Microsoft, which has attracted opposition from some employees over its past spending, said its PAC would make no donations “until after it assesses the implications of last week’s events” and would consult with employees on its future giving.
Citigroup stopped all political contributions for three months, JPMorgan Chase said it was pausing all PAC donations for six months and Goldman Sachs said it was suspending all political spending indefinitely.