How companies have broken promises and funded seditionists
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Since the insurrection, 717 corporations and industry groups have funneled over $18 million to the re-election of members of Congress who objected to the 2020 presidential election results and the party committees supporting them. As calls for insurrection accountability reach the one year mark, one thing is for certain: our democracy cannot recover from the insurrection while Corporate America continues to spend millions of dollars bankrolling seditionist members of Congress.
On January 6, an armed and violent mob stormed the Capitol. It was the first time the building had been breached since the War of 1812. At the end of the day, the death toll stood at five. The attackers assaulted nearly 140 police officers. Four more officers would die by suicide in the following months. Lawmakers came within seconds of tragedy at the hands of the rioters. The crowd constructed a gallows on the Capitol steps to chants of “Hang Mike Pence!”
The insurrection put a capstone on months of work by President Trump and his allies to overturn the results of a free and fair election. These efforts included dozens of frivolous lawsuits, baseless conspiracies about polling machines and uncounted ballots and the attempted weaponization of the Department of Justice. Riled by Trump’s rhetoric, his supporters flocked to “Stop the Steal” rallies around the country. At the White House Ellipse on January 6, Trump and his allies urged the crowd to march on the Capitol and “fight like hell.”
The campaign to subvert democracy also included congressional votes. Many Republicans in Congress pledged to object during the certification process, fanning the flames that drove Trump supporters to attack the Capitol. Even after the violent attack forced lawmakers to evacuate for fear of their lives, 147 Republican members of Congress still voted against certifying the election results.
The January 6 attack shocked the nation. Even Corporate America appeared to register that democracy faced one of its most precarious moments in our country’s history. Many companies promised to hold members of Congress who sought to undermine democracy accountable. But it wouldn’t be long before business interests lured some of these companies back into the giving game.
Many companies that cut off donations to seditionist Republicans in Congress after January 6 have since abandoned those commitments or resumed giving to the main Republican party committees, reportedly driven by concerns about losing influence with Republican lawmakers. This has been amplified by members of the Sedition Caucus threatening companies that cut them off. CREW has persistently called out the companies that have caved to this pressure for putting political access over the urgent need to take a stand for democracy. Instead of filling the campaign coffers of members who voted not to certify the election and continue to spread the Big Lie, corporations and industry groups should demand that these members renounce their votes and stop undermining our democracy.
Since January 2021, CREW has tracked the promises companies made — and broke — about giving to members of Congress who voted against the election results. In addition to donations to the 147 members of the Sedition Caucus and the GOP’s party committees, corporations have resumed giving to the state attorneys general challenging the election results in four battleground states. Many companies made anti-racist commitments following the summer 2020 racial justice protests and publicly denounced new discriminatory voting legislation. Some of these same companies lined the pockets of lawmakers who tried to invalidate millions of votes cast by people of color. Here are the most important findings from one year of tracking corporate support for the Sedition Caucus:
- Since the insurrection, 717 corporations and industry groups have donated over $18 million to 143 of the 147 members of Congress who objected to the results of the 2020 presidential election, as well as the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).
- Companies that pledged to stop or pause their political giving to these members have contributed a total of $4,785,000 to insurrectionist political groups, including $2,381,250 directly to members of the Sedition Caucus’s campaigns and leadership PACs and $2,403,750 to the NRSC and NRCC.
- Boeing ($346,500), Koch Industries ($308,000), American Crystal Sugar ($285,000), General Dynamics ($233,500) and Valero Energy ($207,500) are the top corporate donors to those who objected to the election and their party committees.
- Some companies resumed giving almost immediately. Toyota, which called the January 6 attack “horrific” and promised to reevaluate its giving criteria, poured $9,000 into the pockets of nine Sedition Caucus members within a month of the riot. Cigna and AT&T also resumed giving to seditionists within two months of the riot, with AT&T also contributing to both GOP party committees.
- After the attack, corporations rushed to pay lip service to democracy. Companies including Aflac, Ford Motors, and Valero Energy pledged to pause donations and re-evaluate their giving criteria, but these performative statements would soon give way to business as usual. These three companies have contributed more than $300,000 to seditionists and their party committees, including lawmakers who sit on committees with power over the companies’ business interests.
- Home Depot, JP Morgan, Delta Airlines, UPS, and many others issued statements, speaking out against new voting laws in Georgia as racist, while hundreds of other companies — including American Airlines, Ford, General Motors, and Johnson & Johnson — signed a full page New York Times ad condemning discriminatory voting legislation being passed nationwide. Despite taking pro-democracy stances in public, many of these companies have continued to fund members of Congress who voted against a free and fair election and Republican party committees.
- Corporate and industry PACs have also continued to support the Republican state attorneys general who attempted to invalidate the election results in four battleground states by falsely claiming that election procedures in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin violated federal law. Twenty companies including Boeing, Walmart, and Home Depot have donated $60,200 through their federal PACs to 12 attorneys general involved in the lawsuit, which was led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall collected the most in donations, bringing in $14,500. He is the head of the Rule of Law Defense Fund, a dark money organization that paid for robocalls promoting the “Save America” rally held on January 6 before the insurrection.
- Trade associations have also continued to support members of Congress who objected to the results of the election. PACs affiliated with these groups have contributed $7,678,598 to insurrectionist political groups, including $5,251,098 to campaigns and leadership PACs directly and $2,427,500 to GOP party committees. These contributions undermine the commitments of the groups’ corporate members.
- The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers ($342,000), National Association of Realtors ($303,000), Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America ($270,000), National Electrical Contractors Association ($222,000) and the Credit Union National Association ($217,500) have given the most to insurrectionist members of Congress and Republican committees.
- Some members of the Sedition Caucus have continued to promote the Big Lie, including Madison Cawthorn, Louie Gohmert, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Complicit in these anti-democratic actions are the corporations and trade associations that have continued to bankroll them. McCarthy is the top fundraiser of the Sedition Caucus with $688,000 from 105 corporate and industry donors, including Chevron, Valero, UPS, Merck, Anheuser-Busch, and Ford.
- Dozens of companies suspended donations in the aftermath of the Capitol violence. While many have failed to stick to their commitments to democracy, it isn’t all bad news. More than half of the nearly 250 companies that said they would evaluate their political giving in the wake of the attack have not made a donation to seditionists and Republican party committees since. Toyota stopped giving to seditionist members as a result of public pressure and after receiving pushback from CREW. Hewlett Packard and Charles Schwab shut down their PACs entirely. Hallmark Cards went as far as requesting that Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) return its PAC’s donations. These examples show accountability is possible, and highlight the failures of companies who have continued to support the Sedition Caucus.
- Top corporate donors to the Sedition Caucus
- Commitment to democracy trumped by business interests
- The first companies to abandon their commitments
- Companies overlooking racial justice commitments
- Top trade associations bankrolling seditionists
- Members who continue to spread disinformation
- Companies leading by example
Top corporate donors to the Sedition Caucus
In the days that followed the insurrection, corporations began to take a stand against the anti-democratic violence, promising to reassess or cut off donations to Republican legislators who incited the insurrection or voted against certifying Joe Biden’s election victory. One year later, many of the same companies have resumed funneling money into the pockets of lawmakers who voted to undermine the election and to the main Republican party committees, putting access and influence ahead of the urgent need to stand up for democratic values.
These corporations that pledged to stop or pause donations to the 147 members who voted against certifying the election did not specifically pledge not to donate to the Republican Party’s main political action committees supporting these members — the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the
National Republican Congressional Committee. CREW has nonetheless determined that for corporations to live up to a commitment to preserve democracy, they must also avoid giving to these two committees.
The NRSC itself is currently headed by Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), who was one of eight senators who voted not to certify the results of the election—a decision he stuck with even after seeing the violence and destruction caused by believers of the Big Lie. In 2020, the NRSC supported Senators who would go on to vote against certifying the election — Roger Marshall and Cindy Hyde-Smith. And as of January 2022, the NRSC continues to use one of the most notorious members of the Sedition Caucus, Josh Hawley, to bring in donations.
On the House side, nearly 70% of Republican members voted not to certify the results of the election. It is relevant that the NRCC’s 2020 giving includes 39 members who went on to vote against certifying the election, among them prominent advocates of overturning the election Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and Dan Bishop. While this giving came before their votes against certifying the election, it is indicative of the members the NRCC supports.
That said, anyone seeking an analysis of corporate giving that does not include the NRSC and NRCC can look at the column in our list of corporate donors here which displays donations only to individual members’ campaign and leadership committees.
Since the insurrection, 717 corporations and industry groups have donated over $18 million to 143 of the 147 members of Congress who objected to the results of the 2020 presidential election, as well as the NRSC and the NRCC. Companies that pledged to stop or pause their political giving to these members have contributed a total of $4,785,000 to insurrectionist political groups, including $2,381,250 directly to members of the Sedition Caucus’s campaigns and leadership PACs and $2,403,750 to the NRSC and NRCC.
Boeing ($346,500), Koch Industries ($308,000), American Crystal Sugar ($285,000), General Dynamics ($233,500) and Valero Energy ($207,500) are the top corporate donors to those who objected to the election and their party committees. Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon had all pledged to not donate to members who didn’t support democracy or publicly “paused” their giving — but together, their donations have exceeded half a million dollars, including donations to some of the most anti-democratic members.
|Top Corporate Donors||Total|
These donors have spread their influence far and wide. Lockheed Martin has contributed $145,000 to 72 members of the Sedition Caucus. General Dynamics has given $161,000 to 51 of these members, followed by Toyota, which has donated $89,500 to 51 of them. Boeing has given $136,500 to 47 members and Raytheon has donated $120,500 to 47 of them.
Commitment to democracy trumped by business interests
In the wake of the attack, corporations rushed to condemn the violence and affirm their commitment to democratic values. But many of those promises would soon prove to be nothing more than performative lip service.
Aflac, one of the country’s biggest insurance companies, “strongly condemn[ed] the disgraceful events that took place” and paused giving to “ensure [their] contributions remain consistent with [their] core values.” By July, however, Aflac had given $48,000 to the Sedition Caucus and the party committees. One recipient, Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), sits on the House Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over insurance issues. Three other recipients, Representatives Tom Rice (R-SC), Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Ron Estes (R-KS) sit on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has power over tax and health care policy that impact the insurance industry.
Auto giant Ford, which also suspended donations, invoked lofty ideals of a peaceful transition of power and promised to reflect on the “relevant considerations” that guide its giving. Less than four months later, somber reflection gave way to business as usual. To date, Ford has given $44,500 to the Sedition Caucus and party committees, including the ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Representative Sam Graves (R-MO).
Valero Energy called out the “tragic events that unfolded” on January 6 as their reason for having “no plans to resume [giving] over the next few months.” But it wouldn’t take long for the tragedy to fade from Valero’s memory. The fuel corporation has kept up a steady stream of donations to 17 seditionists and the two party committees since June, amounting to a staggering total of $207,500. Among the top recipients are Representatives Richard Hudson (R-NC) and Steve Scalise (R-LA), who both sit on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The first companies to abandon their commitments
Some companies resumed giving almost immediately. Take Toyota for example. On January 10, the auto manufacturer reportedly called the attack “horrific” and promised to reevaluate its giving criteria. On February 4, it started giving to seditionists again. Within a month of the riot, Toyota poured $9,000 into the pockets of nine members.
Jan 10, 2021
Toyota calls the attack “horrific” and promised to reevaluate its giving criteria.
Feb 04, 2021
Toyota starts giving to seditionists again.
Mar 01, 2021
Within a month of the riot, Toyota has poured $9,000 into the pockets of nine members.
Jul 08, 2021
After immense public pressure and pushback from CREW, Toyota stops giving to seditionists. By then, they had given a total of $89,500 to 51 members of Congress.
Cigna was not far behind. On January 12, the insurance company announced it will “discontinue support of any elected official who encouraged or supported violence, or otherwise hindered a peaceful transition of power.” Barely two months after that, Cigna broke its promise. Since March 2021, the company has given $30,000 to 15 members who voted to overturn the election results. Publicly, the company proclaimed that its commitment to the democratic process is an issue “so foundational to [Cigna’s] core fiber that [it] transcend[s] all other matters of public policy.” But privately, Cigna has lavishly funded the members who sought to undermine the most fundamental element of American democracy.
Jan 12, 2021
Cigna says it will “discontinue support of any elected official who encouraged or supported violence, or otherwise hindered a peaceful transition of power.”
Mar 05, 2021
Cigna starts giving to seditionists again.
Dec 01, 2021
Cigna has given $30,000 to 15 members who voted to overturn the election results since March.
On January 11, AT&T announced a plan to pause donations to the 147 Republican election objectors. But on February 15, the company made a $5,000 donation to the House Conservatives Fund, a leadership PAC chaired by seditionist Representative Jim Banks (R-IN). When asked about the donation, AT&T could only offer that “the House Conservative Fund [had] assured [them] that none of the [AT&T] PAC’s contribution[s] will go toward the re-election” of election objectors. But this explanation glossed over the fact that politicians often use their leadership PACs as slush funds, allowing Banks to enjoy expensive campaign fundraisers and lavish perks on AT&T’s dime. Even if that weren’t the case, AT&T is still supporting a political committee that has given $87,000 to other members of the Sedition Caucus.
Jan 11, 2021
AT&T announces a plan to pause donations to the 147 Republican election objectors.
Feb 15, 2021
AT&T donates $5,000 to the House Conservatives Fund, a leadership PAC sponsored by seditionist Representative Jim Banks of Indiana.
Dec 01, 2021
Since February, AT&T has supported a political committee that has given $87,000 to other members of the Sedition Caucus.
Companies overlooking racial justice commitments
Dozens of companies publicly opposed the restrictive voting bills passed in the wake of the election and released statements speaking out against “any discriminatory legislation.” Many others condemned systemic racism during the racial justice protests in the summer of 2020, which followed a series of murders of Black Americans by police and armed vigilantes. But these same companies have continued to fund officials officials – both directly and through GOP party committees – who have questioned election integrity in order to limit voting rights and claimed that vote totals from cities with significant Black populations and turnout were fraudulent, in order to justify contesting the election results.
Home Depot, JP Morgan, Delta Airlines, UPS and many others spoke out against new voting laws in Georgia as racist, while hundreds of other companies — including American Airlines, Ford, General Motors and Johnson & Johnson — signed a full page New York Times ad condemning discriminatory voting legislation being passed nationwide. Despite taking these pro-democracy stances in public, many of these companies have continued to fund members of Congress who voted against a free and fair election and the Republican party committees supporting them. The pharmaceutical company Merck, whose CEO co-organized the Times ad, has given $68,000 to the Sedition Caucus and the party committees through its PAC.
Corporate and industry PACs have also contributed to the Republican state attorneys general who attempted to invalidate the election results by joining a lawsuit, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, against four battleground states won by Biden. Twenty industry donors including Boeing, Walmart and Home Depot have donated $60,200 through their federal PACs to Paxton and eleven other attorneys general who joined that lawsuit, attempting to decertify the results. The four states received historic turnout from voters of color.
Steve Marshall, attorney general of Alabama, has raised the most from these donors, taking in $14,500. He is the head of the Rule of Law Defense Fund, a dark money organization that paid for robocalls detailing when and where individuals should meet for the “Save America” rally held before the insurrection took place at the Capitol. His efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election perpetuated the myth that it was stolen, while robocalls by RLDF urged rallygoers to “march to the Capitol” and “call on Congress to stop the steal.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton pulled in $6,000 from the Texas Farm Bureau and Valero Energy since leading the charge to invalidate millions of people’s votes. Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah backed the lawsuit, further eroding confidence in this country’s democratic system. He pulled in $7,500 from two donors, including Home Depot.
Companies that cut checks to these election objectors had also made commitments about confronting systemic racism in this country. Only their efforts to curb racism apparently don’t include their political giving. Cigna, which shared its “resolute belief in diversity [and] inclusion” and described intolerance “as not only unacceptable, but as the antithesis of everything [they] stand for,” offered contributions to Florida Attorney General and former RLDF board member Ashley Moody. Walmart, which committed $100 million over five years to build a “center on racial equity” to address systemic racism, contributed to Marshall. Home Depot gave $1 million to the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law “in support of its vital work to secure civil rights and equal justice for all,” then turned around and donated to Reyes.
These billion dollar corporations have contradicted their public commitments to racial justice by bankrolling attorneys general sowing doubt about a fair election in states like Georgia, which have historically suppressed Black voters. By funding these officials, the same companies claiming to support racial justice are giving political power to an anti-democratic and racist agenda.
Top trade associations bankrolling seditionists
Trade associations — a type of nonprofit organization that gets funding from companies from a particular industry to promote their interests — have also continued to support members of Congress who objected to the results of the election. PACs affiliated with these groups have contributed $7,678,598 to insurrectionist political groups, including $5,251,098 to campaigns and leadership PACs directly and $2,427,500 to GOP party committees. The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers ($342,000), National Association of Realtors ($303,000), Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America ($270,000), National Electrical Contractors Association ($222,000) and the Credit Union National Association ($217,500) have given the most to insurrectionist members of Congress and Republican party committees.
Trade groups’ political contributions show how porous many corporate promises about January 6 were. Even companies that have stuck to their commitments not to support seditionists may be backing them by paying dues to an industry group, which can use those funds to support an affiliated PAC that makes contributions to the likes of Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) or Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH). For example, companies like Bank of America, Capital One, Discover Financial Services, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan made commitments to pause and evaluate their political donating policies after the insurrection, while Mastercard and PNC suspended their contributions entirely. But as members of the American Bankers Association, these companies have continued to support election objectors. The trade group has donated $108,000 to 36 members of the Sedition Cacus and $30,000 to party committees. If these companies were serious about their promises, they would stop paying dues, or leverage their status as some of the country’s biggest banks to make the trade group stop donating, too.
Trade groups have also put January 6 in a memory hole, reversing course on commitments to uphold democracy, and returning to business as usual. Soon after the insurrection, the National Association of Realtors announced that they would “continue to closely monitor events in Washington” to ensure their donations aligned with the will of their members. Since then, the association contributed to the greatest number of individual Sedition Caucus members, giving $183,000 to 82 members as well as $120,000 to the NRSC and NRCC.
Their top recipient, Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), who collected $16,000 in donations to his campaign and leadership PAC, supported Ted Cruz’s effort to represent President Trump in front of the Supreme Court in an effort to reverse the electoral results in Pennsylvania. On Jan. 6, he tweeted about objecting to the certification of electoral votes from states he claimed “clearly violated the Constitution.”
Members who continue to spread disinformation
As if voting to subvert democracy were not enough, some members of the Sedition Caucus have gone even further to promote the Big Lie. From downplaying the events of January 6 to creating false narratives out of whole cloth, these members have obstructed the search for truth and whitewashed history. Complicit in these anti-democratic actions are the corporations and trade associations that have continued to bankroll the most incendiary members.
Madison Cawthorn, who urged January 6 rioters to “fight in Washington” and falsely claimed the violence was instigated by those “paid by the Democratic machine,” has continued to peddle lies about the election and the insurrection. In August, he made headlines for calling January 6 defendants “political prisoners” and insinuating that “rigged” and “stolen” elections will inevitably lead to “bloodshed.” Cawthorn has received $2,000 in donations from the National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors and the Farmers’ Rice Cooperative Fund.
Louie Gohmert, who suggested the FBI was involved in the attack and said “there’s no evidence this was an armed insurrection,” raised $1,000 from the National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors. Scott Perry insisted that “no arms came into the Capitol with the people that did walk in.” Perry, who sits on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has raised $22,500 from corporate interests, including $5,500 from three automobile and transportation trade associations. He also received $2,000 from Raytheon, a defense contractor that pledged to “reflect on the current environment and determine appropriate next steps.”
Even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the third-ranking House Republican Elise Stefanik have boosted conspiracy theories about the insurrection. Rather than condemning the members of their conference who riled the mob with inflammatory lies, they diverted the blame to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, falsely claiming that Pelosi oversees security for the Capitol and, in Stefanik’s words, “bears responsibility … for the tragedy that occurred.”
Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) also paints Pelosi as having sole and complete control over Capitol Police and “is ultimately responsible for the breakdown of security at the Capitol.” Banks, McCarthy, and Stefanik are some of the biggest beneficiaries of corporate donations. McCarthy is the top fundraiser of the Sedition Caucus with $688,000 from 105 corporate and industry donors, including Chevron, Valero, UPS, Merck, Anheuser-Busch, and Ford. Stefanik has raised $195,750 from 56 of these donors, and Banks, who pretended to be the ranking member of the January 6 committee, has taken in $141,500 from 59 of them.
Companies leading by example
Dozens of companies and trade groups said they would suspend donations in the aftermath of the Capitol violence. While many abandoned these commitments, most have kept their word. One hundred thirty-four out of 248 of these businesses and groups have still not contributed to seditionists or the main Republican party committees.
Toyota stopped giving to seditionist members in July as a result of public pressure and after receiving pushback from CREW. Before making the change, the automaker led all corporations in terms of contributions — donating $89,500 to members and leadership PACs of election objectors this year.
Charles Schwab, one of the country’s biggest brokerage firms, took an even more significant step. A week after the riot, the company announced the dissolution of its PAC and said it would no longer accept contributions from employees or make financial contributions to lawmakers. The PAC’s remaining funds were donated to The Boys & Girls Club of America and historically Black colleges and universities.
Hewlett Packard also shut down its PAC soon after January 6. Hallmark Cards went as far as to request that Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) return its PAC donations. These examples show that corporate accountability is possible. The corporations continuing to fund lawmakers who voted against the results of a free and fair election are complicit in the Big Lie and should be held to account.
Even though Trump is no longer in office, his allies have continued to spread the Big Lie. Their attempts to invalidate the results of an election pose a real danger to this country’s democratic process — setting the precedent for legislators to throw out legitimate election victories they disapprove of. Despite making promises to uphold democracy and to stand against disenfranchisement of voters of color, corporations are financing lawmakers who propagated myths about voter fraud attempting to subvert a presidential election. These companies need to put their money where their mouths are and stop giving political power to those seeking to undermine elections. Our democracy depends on it.