On January 6, a violent mob stormed the Capitol to try and stop the certification of the results of a fair presidential election won by Joe Biden. In the months prior to the attack, political leaders aligned with President Trump, including members of Congress, had spread baseless claims about a rigged presidential election, leading to that day’s events. The insurrection caused multiple deaths, including the death of a Capitol Police officer.
To many, that day was a wake up call. It proved how seriously false claims about the presidential election had damaged our democracy. Among those appearing to register the seriousness of the event were corporate and business groups. Many correctly laid blame at the feet of the 147 members of Congress who had propagated the Big Lie that President Trump won the election by voting against the election results, and a portion of those companies made commitments to stop making campaign contributions to the members responsible for American democracy’s near-death experience.
Holding those officials accountable was the right thing to do. But eight months later, the same companies that promised to take a stand against the anti-democratic actions of these members of Congress have lost their resolve. These companies have continued to support the campaigns and reelections of members who voted against the election results, failing to do their small part to preserve our democracy.
According to tracking by CREW, in less than nine months since January 6, corporations and industry groups have donated more than ten million dollars to members of Congress who voted against the results of a free and fair election, and to two political groups that exist to support those same members.
Top donors to the Sedition Caucus
Dozens of companies and industry groups vowed to halt donations to the 147 lawmakers who disputed the presidential election results in response to the violent January 6 insurrection. These commitments, while promising, often turned out to be thin. Many of these companies have reversed course in the months since the Capitol riot, while others simply kept giving. By doing so, these corporations have sacrificed democratic values for political access and influence.
The members of Congress who voted not to certify the election should renounce their votes against certifying the election, and corporate and industry donors should demand they do so, rather than give them a pass in favor of their own parochial interests.
Top corporate donors
Since the attack, 477 corporations and industry groups have donated over $10 million to 138 members of Congress who voted not to certify the 2020 election results, as well as the Republican Party’s main committees supporting these members — the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). This sum includes $2,845,000 from companies that originally pledged to halt or pause their political giving to reevaluate their policies after the insurrection, and $1,005,000 of that sum went directly to members of the Sedition Caucus’s campaigns and leadership PACs.
Boeing ($274,000), American Crystal Sugar ($230,000), Koch Industries ($180,500), General Dynamics Corporation ($174,500) and Lockheed Martin ($150,500) are the top corporate donors to insurrectionist political groups and campaigns. These five donors have given $502,000 to insurrectionist members’ campaigns and leadership PACs. Toyota formerly led all corporations in terms of contributions to insurrectionist members. As a result of public pressure and pushback from CREW and others, the company changed its contributing policy to stop giving to the 147 seditionists in July. Before doing so, it had contributed $84,500 to members and leadership PACs of election objectors this year.
Companies that reneged on pledges not to give
Many companies that paid lip service to democratic values have since continued to feed the pockets of those who spread the lethal narrative about the election. Those donations speak much louder than their promises. Of the 248 companies that made a commitment to stop giving to the Sedition Caucus, 84 have already broken their commitments, while 151 stayed true to their word.
Boeing is among the worst offenders on this point. In a statement after the January 6 riot, Boeing publicly condemned “the violence, lawlessness and destruction” that ensued at the Capitol and paused political giving to evaluate future contributions and ensure that they would support those who “uphold our country’s most fundamental principles.” But since then, Boeing has quietly loosened its purse strings, contributing a total of $274,000 to political groups supporting insurrectionist members of Congress, including $64,000 directly to those members’ campaigns and leadership PACs.
Lockheed Martin, General Motors, Cigna, American Airlines and Aflac have done the same thing: reevaluated their guidelines after the insurrection, but continued to support seditionists anyway. Together, companies that committed to halt and reassess their support for the Sedition Caucus have since contributed $1,005,000 to members of the insurrection caucus.
Other companies like Walmart, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Comcast and Verizon, which also made commitments, have cut off donations to these members, but continued to support the party groups that exist to support them, effectively circumventing their commitments. Companies and industry groups that committed to hold the Sedition Caucus accountable but continue to give to the NRSC and NRCC have given $745,000 to the two party committees. These committees exist to support Republicans in Congress, more than half of whom have voted against the election results.
Top trade association donors
Trade associations, nonprofits that represent and advocate for a particular industry, have also continued to support members of Congress who voted against the results of the election. These industry groups are funded by dues from their corporate members, which they use to advocate for the industry they represent. PACs affiliated with these groups have contributed $4,453,275 to insurrectionist political groups, including $2,313,275 to campaigns and leadership PACs directly. The top donors are the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers ($242,500), National Association of Realtors ($233,000), Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America ($216,000), National Electrical Contractors Association ($181,000) and the American Society of Anesthesiologists ($166,500).
A commitment from a corporation to stop giving political contributions to the Sedition Caucus means little if the company is paying dues to a trade association who is making those very contributions. For example, Mastercard and PNC suspended giving to the election objectors while Bank of America, Capital One, Discover Financial Services, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan all made commitments to pause and rethink their policies after the insurrection. But each is a member of the American Bankers Association, which has donated $42,500 to 14 members of the Sedition Caucus. These companies are undermining American democracy by continuing to support insurrectionists. If they want to honor their commitments, they should either hold the trade associations accountable or sever ties with them.
Insurrectionist members who’ve raised the most
Last spring, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) reportedly threatened reluctant corporate donors saying that if they put him on an “enemies list,” he would create “a list of his own.” Businesses succumbed. Rep. Luetkemeyer has raised $115,000 from over 40 companies and industry groups, including Toyota, American Financial Services Association and H&R Block since January 6.
Other members have attempted to apply similar pressure. Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House minority leader, said he would use a future GOP majority to punish companies that comply with the House’s January 6 investigators, warning that “a Republican majority will not forget.” He has collected $351,000 in donations from 48 corporate and industry PACs, topping the list of Republicans who voted to overturn the election results in terms of fundraising. Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA), the minority whip, comes in second, bringing in $259,200 from companies like Chevron, Boeing and Cigna — all companies that denounced the acts of violence at the Capitol, then quietly got back into the giving game.
Members of the insurrection caucus who chair powerful committees have continued to raise money from corporations and industry groups they regulate. Representative Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania, who serves as the Republican leader of the House Agriculture Committee, collected $152,395 from donors including the Crop Insurance Professionals Association, National Chicken Council, National Milk Producers Federation and Agricultural Retailers Association. Representative Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee and House Agriculture Committee, pulled in $149,000 from names like American Crystal Sugar, The Farm Credit Council, Cigna, Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Representative Sam Graves of Missouri — a ranking member on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure — comes in at fifth place with the highest number of donations, bringing in $134,000, from American Airlines, Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association and Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings.
Insurrection leaders have continued to receive support
Every member of Congress who spread the Big Lie by voting against the results of the presidential election should be held accountable by corporate donors for the insurrection on January 6. It’s disappointing that they haven’t. But some members in particular played a key role in those events, and those members especially should lose support. They have seen their fundraising lag, but some corporate and industry donors have continued to support them.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), whose office falsely claimed “Republican poll watchers were denied meaningful access to the ballot processing and counting process in Philadelphia,” has raised $3,000 from corporate donors since the attack on the Capitol. Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL), who spoke at the rally that led to the attack, has raised $5,000. In his remarks he said, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass… Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America?”
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), who led the efforts to challenge the 2020 election results in Congress, has raised $7,900. He greeted the mob gathered outside the Capitol on January 6, raising his fist and thanking them for being there. Representative Andrew Clyde (R-GA), who downplayed the events, comparing the mob’s breaching of the Capitol to “a normal tourist visit” raised $1,000 from Lockheed Martin. By continuing to fund these anti-democratic leaders, companies and industry groups are failing woefully to hold themselves accountable. These companies have chosen political influence over democracy.
Corporate America’s abject failure to hold members of Congress to account for spreading the Big Lie that Donald Trump won the presidential election is beyond disappointing. It highlights more starkly than ever how the connection between money and power in American politics serves to corrode democracy.