Capital One, which pledged after the January 6 insurrection to “suspend contributions through our PAC” and review its giving, has now abandoned that pledge and begun giving to members of the Sedition Caucus. In December 2021, Capital One gave $5,000 each to the leadership PACs of Rep. Blaine Luetkeymeyer and Sen. John Kennedy, who both endorsed the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 presidential election by voting against certifying the results. Both members sit on banking-related committees.
Luetkeymeyer reportedly said that he’d put companies who paused donations on a “list”—Capital One may not have wanted to risk the consequences of being on a list of companies who put democracy over profits.
Cox Enterprises, which owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as well as AutoTrader and Kelley Blue Book, promised to revisit its contribution policies after the insurrection and “take into consideration efforts to disregard the votes of our customers and employees.” That consideration lasted only a year.
“Capital One, Cox, and Exelon wanted good PR for their pledges and nice words about democracy, but they seemingly didn’t want it to come at the expense of access to members of Congress.”
Cox began giving to members of Congress who voted to reject one or more states’ election results in December. Cox has now given a total of $10,000 to Reps. Stephanie Bice, Markwayne Mullin, Ron Estes and Kevin Hern, all of whom voted against certifying the election results. Cox previously established a $1 million fund benefiting racial justice groups, as well as provided $1 million in donated advertising time to support the Ad Council’s Racial Equity campaign. Despite an outward commitment to racial justice, Cox is now funding candidates who have questioned election integrity in an effort to limit voting rights, and who sought to throw out the votes of cities with significant Black populations in an effort to overturn the election.
Exelon, which owns Pepco and a number of other utilities, pledged after the insurrection to conduct a review of its contribution policies and not make contributions to lawmakers who contested the election while conducting the review. Perhaps, like so many other companies, Exelon concluded that it was comfortable giving to seditionists again once it had fallen out of the headlines. In November, Exelon began giving to seditionists, including Reps. John Joyce and Bill Johnson who sit on the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Exelon has now given a total of $15,000 to six members of the Sedition Caucus.
One thing all these companies have in common—other than quietly abandoning their initial pledges—is that they all began giving in the same election cycle as the insurrection. That means that if these companies give the same amounts to members of the Sedition Caucus as they would have if there had never been an insurrection, their “pause” in contributions really did nothing. Capital One, Cox, and Exelon wanted good PR for their pledges and nice words about democracy, but they seemingly didn’t want it to come at the expense of access to members of Congress. Without public pressure and accountability, we’ll likely see more companies making the same choice—abandoning their pledges quietly and hoping the public doesn’t notice.