Corporations have given over $50 million to the Sedition Caucus
What you need to know:
- In the days after January 6th, at least 231 corporations and industry groups pledged to stop, pause, or re-evaluate their political giving to the 147 members of the so-called Sedition Caucus. Two years into their commitments, 65 companies have kept their promises not to give, while the rest have resumed giving.
- 1,345 corporate and industry group PACs have given $50.5 million directly to the campaigns or leadership PACs of members of the Sedition Caucus, and $18.9 million to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).
- The top 5 corporate PAC donors since January 6th are Koch Industries ($1,374,500), Boeing ($936,500), Valero Energy ($827,500), Home Depot ($790,000), and AT&T ($786,900).
On January 6, 2021, thousands of Trump supporters — emboldened by then-President Trump’s call to “fight like hell” — stormed the Capitol Building in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Even after the violence and destruction at the Capitol, 147 members of Congress still voted against certifying the election results.
In the days that followed, at least 231 corporations and industry groups pledged to stop, pause, or re-evaluate their political giving to the 147 members of the so-called Sedition Caucus. CREW has been tracking all corporate PAC contributions to these members since then, from companies that made a commitment and companies that did not. By January 6th the following year, 130 of the companies that had made commitments, including many that strongly condemned the violence and attack on our democracy at the time, had started giving again through their affiliated PACs. Two years into their commitments, 65 companies have kept their promises not to give, while the rest have resumed giving, often quietly and without making a public statement. Not all of the companies that resumed giving have technically violated the terms of their commitments, which in some cases were temporary or limited, but most or all seem to be in contrast to the spirit of those commitments and the values the companies expressed publicly.
Looking at all corporate PAC giving to the Sedition Caucus, regardless of whether the donor made a commitment or not, the top 10 corporate PAC donors since January 6th are Koch Industries ($1,374,500), Boeing ($936,500), Valero Energy ($827,500), Home Depot ($790,000), AT&T ($786,900), American Crystal Sugar ($745,000), United Parcel Services ($713,500), L3Harris Technologies Inc. ($663,000), Lockheed Martin ($652,500), and General Dynamics ($589,000). Six of these companies initially committed to pause or re-evaluate their giving.
In total, 1,345 corporate and industry group PACs have given $50.5 million directly to the campaigns or leadership PACs of members of the Sedition Caucus, and $18.9 million to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), two party committees that help elect Republicans to Congress. In the 2022 cycle, the NRCC gave directly to nine members who voted against certifying the election results and spent over $14 million to oppose candidates running against election deniers who were seeking office. The NRSC spent $9.9 million in independent expenditures in support of election denier and senatorial candidate Blake Masters and $6.3 million to help elect Rep. Ted Budd to the Senate. Companies had not specifically pledged not to support new candidates who were election deniers, but again, doing so seems inconsistent with the spirit of commitments made.
Another way that corporations indirectly support these legislators is through their memberships to trade associations — nonprofits that collect dues from corporations and in turn advocate for their members’ business interests. Trade association PACs have contributed $30 million to the campaigns and leadership PACs of members of the Sedition Caucus, NRCC, and NRSC.
Pledges to democracy fall by the wayside
After the insurrection, Amazon decried the attack as an “unacceptable attempt to undermine a legitimate democratic process,” suspended contributions to the Sedition Caucus, and promised to “discuss our concerns directly with those Members.” But in September 2022, Amazon gave $17,500 to nine members of the Sedition Caucus, and just before the 2022 election, it gave $29,000 to fifteen others. There is no public information about whether Amazon actually had these conversations; none of the recipients have apologized for refusing to certify the election. The e-commerce giant tried to justify its actions by pointing out that “it’s been more than 21 months since the suspension,” even though its donations still fell in the 2021-2022 election cycle. Because Amazon donated in the same cycle as its initial pledge, its promise was little more than a PR stunt, with no real consequences or lost funding for the members it was targeted at.
Allstate also suspended donations to election objectors because their “actions did not align with [Allstate’s] commitment to bipartisanship, collaboration and compromise.” The insurance company also pledged to “monitor and measure each lawmaker’s ongoing conduct against revised contribution criteria to determine reinstatement.” Allstate resumed donations in August 2022, giving $36,000 to 16 seditionists as of November 2022, none of whom has apologized for refusing to certify the election results. All 16 recipients also voted against creating a commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol and against impeaching Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection. One recipient’s comments likely get at the real reason Allstate began donating again: Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, who sits on the House Financial Services Committee, reportedly threatened companies who stopped giving to him that they would go on an “enemies list.”
Disney strongly condemned the Sedition Caucus, calling January 6th a “direct assault on one of our country’s most revered tenets: the peaceful transition of power.” Despite the strong statement, the company only committed to suspending donations during 2021, even though donations given any time in the 2021-2022 election cycle would benefit seditionists. When Disney resumed giving in July 2022, its donations—$4,500 to three election objectors thus far—still went towards reelecting members whose actions Disney denounced. Apparently Disney thought one year of prioritizing democratic norms over business interests was good enough.
New Congress, new election deniers
While many corporations seem to have forgotten about the insurrection, voters remember. Election deniers generally fared poorly in the 2022 midterms. Election deniers who ran for positions that would control elections in key states lost high-profile races, as did some in widely watched swing state elections. Nonetheless, this year’s new Congress will not be lacking for election deniers. While the Sedition Caucus lost some founding members in the midterms, some new election deniers were elected. Rep. Tom Rice, the only seditionist to apologize for his vote against certifying the election, lost his primary to Trump-endorsed candidate Russell Fry, who went on to win the general election and said “it is very clear that [the 2020 election] was rigged.” Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long both lost Missouri’s Senate primary to Eric Schmitt, who supported legal challenges to the 2020 election as Missouri’s Attorney General. Reps. Mo Brooks and Bob Gibbs will be replaced by Dale Strong and Max Miller, respectively, both of whom continue to spread disinformation about the 2020 election.
Other incoming members who made election denialism central to their campaigns include Representatives-elect Derrick Van Orden, Anna Paulina Luna, Harriet Hageman, and Senator J.D. Vance.
Van Orden attended the January 6th rally at the Ellipse and apparently crossed police lines at the Capitol. CREW has called for an investigation into his eligibility to serve under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. His campaign received donations from Home Depot ($5,000), Koch Industries ($10,000), and major trade associations like the American Bankers Association ($2,500), the National Association of Realtors ($5,000), Associated Builders and Contractors ($2,500), and the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers ($7,500). Home Depot said it would “carefully review and reevaluate each of the members who voted to object to the election results before considering further contributions to them,” while the National Association of Realtors promised to “closely monitor events in Washington … in order to ensure our political participation most closely represents the will of our REALTOR members.”
During his 2022 primary campaign, Vance said there was illegal voting “on a large scale basis” in the 2020 election and blamed a “big-tech” conspiracy for Donald Trump’s loss. During his campaign, Vance reneged on his own pledge not to accept corporate cash and received significant corporate PAC support from donors like General Motors ($2,500), Merck ($2,500), Home Depot ($5,000), Valero ($5,000), and Regions Financial ($2,000), all of which suspended political contributions after the insurrection. Regions Financial said they were pausing donations to “identify a united path forward” and Valero said the “tragic events” of January 6th prompted them to pause donations and “evaluate future contributions.”
Luna maintains that Trump is the rightful winner of the 2020 election and attended the premier of debunked conspiracy film 2000 Mules. She has received $2,500 from the American Bankers Association, which promised to consider the “troubling events” of January 6th for its future giving. Other major trade associations also supported Luna’s campaign, including the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies ($1,000), National Federation of Independent Business ($2,500), and Associated Builders and Contractors ($5,000).
Hageman has stated that the 2020 election was “absolutely rigged … to make sure that President Trump could not get re-elected.” She has received $5,000 from Koch Industries and $1,000 from T-Mobile, which paused donations after January 6th and said the “assault on the U.S. Capitol and on democracy was unacceptable.”
Sedition Caucus members who lost their races include Madison Cawthorn, Steven Palazzo, Yvette Herrell, and Steve Chabot. Jody Hice, Lee Zeldin, Louie Gohmert, and Devin Nunes didn’t run for reelection to Congress. One hundred and twenty-nine original members of the Sedition Caucus remain in Congress, with dozens of new election deniers joining them, which means that the influence of the Big Lie will continue to be felt in Congress.
Prioritizing access and influence
Corporations often make political donations with their business interests in mind, even when those run contrary to their stated corporate values. Recent reporting has revealed the lengths some Sedition Caucus members went to in order to overturn the election, from urging Trump and his team to take illegal steps to reverse their loss to helping lay the groundwork for the events of January 6th. Nevertheless, these members’ powerful committee assignments have kept the corporate cash flowing, even from companies that rebuked the attempted coup.
Rep. Scott Perry was central to the effort to overturn the election. He pressured the DOJ to investigate alleged election fraud, including emailing inaccurate voting data to a DOJ official and asking then-Attorney General Bill Barr to appoint a special counsel to investigate irregularities, even after Barr admitted there was no evidence of significant fraud. Perry was also active in elevating debunked conspiracy theories to Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. The Freedom Caucus chair pushed Meadows to investigate fringe theories like Italygate, and the January 6th investigation revealed that Perry was a key figure in the alternate electors scheme. Rep. Ralph Norman called for Trump to invoke martial law, and Rep. Rick Allen passed along unsubstantiated YouTube conspiracy videos to the White House and urged Trump and Meadows to pressure election officials from his own state of Georgia.
Corporations have continued to support all three of these members despite their undemocratic actions when their committee assignment may affect the companies’ bottom lines. Norman, who sits on the House Committee on Financial Services, has received donations from H&R Block, Aflac, and Allstate, all of which condemned the refusal to certify the election and suspended donations after January 6th. Allen, who sits on the House Committee on Agriculture, has received support from many agricultural trade groups. Perry, who is on the Aviation subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has received donations from Boeing, UPS, General Motors, and Koch. American Airlines and AT&T each gave Perry $2,500 even after the depth of Perry’s involvement was revealed.
Perry was also present at a December 2020 White House meeting where he and Reps. Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene conspired with Trump and his team on their election objection strategy. These members played such a central role in orchestrating the events leading up to the Capitol attack that they all allegedly requested a preemptive presidential pardon in the wake of the deadly insurrection. Corporations have donated more than $100,000 to these members nonetheless.
Even though corporations may not have been aware of the full extent of these members’ actions, Perry, Norman, Allen and their fellow seditionists certainly did not keep their sympathies secret before or after January 6th. Now that a fuller picture is visible, corporations have no excuse to keep supporting people who helped foment an insurrection.
Companies that haven’t resumed giving
While the majority of corporations and industry groups have broken the promises they made after January 6th, 65 of the 231 have still not contributed to members of the Sedition Caucus or the party committees that support them. Some of America’s largest corporations, like Bank of America, Devon Energy, and Microsoft, show that it’s possible for corporate PACs to hold the Sedition Caucus accountable; those companies that have abandoned their commitments have no excuse. Two years after January 6th, here are the companies that have kept their promises: