The January 6 committee’s hearings have shed light on the central roles of some House Republicans in the lead up to the Capitol riot. Six lawmakers—Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, Scott Perry, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene—were alleged to have requested presidential pardons after the attack. They were such key players in Trump’s plot to subvert American democracy they apparently believed their own actions may have amounted to federal crimes.
Though last month’s hearings exposed the depths of these members’ involvement in Trump’s failed coup, none of it came as a surprise. These lawmakers’ election lies and insurrectionist rhetoric was hardly confined to closed door meetings. They railed publicly against the election results as fraudulent leading up to the Capitol attack, and they have continued to do so. Brooks, who urged the mob to “start taking down names and kicking ass,” was the first member of Congress to announce plans to challenge the electoral results, while Greene’s tweets about alleged voter fraud began the day after the election and continued over the next two months. Gohmert stated during his recent unsuccessful campaign for Texas Attorney General that “cracking down on voter fraud” was his “top priority.”
After January 6, dozens of corporations and business groups swore off support for members of Congress who voted to overturn the election. But those promises were short-lived and many have since resumed giving to the so-called Sedition Caucus, including the lawmakers who sought pardons for plotting to overturn the election. Corporate and business PACs have given nearly $100,000 to these members since January 6. These companies need to take the January 6 hearings as a wake up call.
“Corporate and business PACs have given nearly $100,000 to these members since January 6. These companies need to take the January 6 hearings as a wake up call.”
The six members named above, along with Reps. Jody Hice and Jim Jordan, met with Trump in the White House on December 21, 2020 to discuss their strategy for objecting to the electoral count results. On January 6, 2021, that scheme led to tragedy. In the wake of the deadly attack on the Capitol, each of these six members preemptively asked Mark Meadows or other White House officials for a presidential pardon, which only covers federal criminal offenses.
Despite their key roles in orchestrating the events that led to the insurrection, these members continued to receive support from corporations and industry groups. Perry, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee who elevated election conspiracies to the White House and connected Trump with former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, received $62,500 from companies like Koch, Raytheon, Boeing, UPS, and General Motors, as well as from insurance, realtor, and auto dealer trade groups. Biggs sits on the powerful House Oversight and Reform committee and has received $14,000 from names like Toyota, Lockheed Martin, and the National Association of Realtors. Brooks, who sits on the House Armed Services and Science, Space and Technology committees and spearheaded the vote objection effort, has received $12,400, a third of which came from defense and technology contractors. Gohmert, on the House Natural Resources committee, has received $5,500 from forestry, insurance and realtor trade groups as well as Nexstar Media Group, America’s largest local TV company. Greene, stripped of her committee assignments for promoting the QAnon conspiracy and encouraging violence against Democratic officials, has received $2,500. Gaetz, embroiled in a sex trafficking scandal that broke soon after the insurrection, has received no corporate or trade group donations since January 6.
These members of Congress amplified Trump’s election lies with such an intensity that they themselves feared they could be prosecuted. If corporate PACs weren’t already rethinking their support, they should be now. It was no secret that these members were intent on overturning the election, yet companies and trade associations continued to line their pockets. Companies shouldn’t be surprised that these members seemingly thought they were breaking the law, but in light of the committee’s new findings, there is no more excuse to turn a blind eye.
Shocking new testimony from the most recent hearing alleged that Trump was determined to march to the Capitol, perhaps even entering the House chamber as votes were counted, to witness the culmination of his Big Lie. It’s time for corporations to reevaluate whether they want to keep supporting the people who helped him foment an insurrection—and went so far they feared criminal prosecution.