By Lauren Hirsch and Jeanna Smialek
After the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol Building, scores of companies vowed to pause their political donations. Some stopped giving to all politicians, while others shunned only those 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the presidential election results. A recent deadline for candidates to release fund-raising details for the first quarter revealed more details about how corporate giving has changed.
Companies largely kept their word, the DealBook newsletter reports. Only a handful of corporate political action committees gave to the Republican objectors in the first three months of the year. The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, recorded two PAC donations, from the California Beet Growers Association and the National Federation of Independent Business. Mr. McCarthy had more than 100 donations from business groups in the same period in 2017.
Some companies took the view that not all of the 147 lawmakers are the same, a stance adopted by the Chamber of Commerce.
Toyota gave to more than a dozen of the Republicans who voted against certifying the election results. A company spokesman said in a statement that Toyota “does not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification.” The company decided against giving to unspecified others, who “through their statements and actions, undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions.” After the Capitol riot, the company said it would assess its “future PAC criteria,” a more vague pledge than those of many other companies.
Cigna gave to Byron Donalds of Florida, Tom Rice of South Carolina and other House members after it said in January it would “discontinue support of any elected official who encouraged or supported violence, or otherwise hindered the peaceful transition of power.” A spokeswoman for the insurer said that congressional votes are “by definition, part of the peaceful transition of power,” and that its cutoff of donations “applies to those who incited violence or actively sought to obstruct the peaceful transition of power through words and other efforts.”
Lawmakers at the forefront of the push to overturn the election raked in cash from other sources. Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas each brought in more than $3 million for the quarter, tapping into the outrage of their individual supporters. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia similarly raised $3.2 million, more than nearly every other member of House leadership.
The financial haul for those with the loudest and most extreme voices, against the backdrop of the corporate pullback, highlights a potential shift in the Republican Party’s longtime coziness with corporate America. It also raises questions about the ability of big business to influence policy, as pressure builds on companies to weigh in on hot-button issues like restrictions on voting.
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