• By The Financial District

U.S. FIRMS GIVING MONEY TO GOP MONTHS AFTER VOWING NOT TO AID JAN. 6 ATTACK BACKERS

As shockwaves spread across the country from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, corporate America took a stand against the lies that powered the mob. Or so it seemed, David Klepper reported for the Associated Press (AP).

Dozens of big companies, citing their commitment to democracy, pledged to avoid donating money to the 147 lawmakers who objected to Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s victory on the false grounds that voting fraud stole the election from then-President Donald Trump.


It was a striking gesture by some of the most familiar names in business, but, as it turns out, it was largely an empty one. Six months later, many of those companies have resumed funneling cash to political action committees that benefit the election efforts of lawmakers whether they objected to the election certification or not. When it comes to seeking political influence through corporate giving, business as usual is back, if it ever left.


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Walmart, Pfizer, Intel, General Electric and AT&T are among companies that announced their pledges on behalf of democracy in the days after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a violent bid to disrupt the transfer of power.


The companies contend that donating directly to a candidate is not the same as giving to a PAC that supports them. Given America’s porous campaign finance laws, it’s a distinction without a difference to campaign finance experts. The companies’ argument also glosses over the fact that, in large measure, they did their giving through PACs before their pledge, rather than to individuals, so in many cases nothing changed.


“Pledging not to give to a certain person doesn’t mean that much when there are so many other ways that corporate money reaches elected officials,” said Daniel Weiner, a former senior counsel at the Federal Election Commission who now works at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school. “These pledges are largely symbolic.”


Walmart’s moral stand lasted three months. In January, the retail giant said it would suspend all donations to the 147 lawmakers who objected to the election results. But in April, the company gave $30,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, the party organization that supports House Republicans in elections.


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In January, after the attack, General Electric said it would “halt donations to lawmakers who voted against certification” because “we believe it is important to ensure that our future contributions continue to reflect our company’s values and commitment to democracy.”


But that’s not exactly what happened. In April, General Electric gave $15,000 each to the House and Senate GOP election groups.


Likewise, Pfizer pledged to suspend contributions to Republican objectors for six months. But after only three months, it gave $20,000 to the GOP’s Senate group. AT&T also pledged not to give money to lawmakers who objected, but the company sent $5,000 in February to the House Conservatives Fund.


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