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Money in Politics

How Massive Companies Sidestepped Their Vows To Uphold Democracy

Companies Froze Individual Donations to Politicians Who Tried to Block Biden's Election, Then Funneled Money to Them Through PACs Instead

Corporations have quietly resumed giving money to politicians backing the same election lies that fueled hundreds--including Jacob Anthony Angeli Chansley, now facing charges--to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan 6.


(Image: Photo by Brent Stirton / Getty Images.)

Hundreds of America’s biggest companies took a stand in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection in the U.S. Capitol by vowing not to donate to any lawmaker who voted against the certification of the 2020 presidential election, which former Pres. Trump’s own national security officials called the most secure election in American history.

Many of those very same companies have restarted donations already. Others circumvented their own pledges by donating to political action committees, which then give money to individual candidates.

TYT scoured Federal Election Commission filings to see who restarted donations. It’s far beyond the recent discovery that Toyota donated $56,000 to 38 Republican lawmakers who voted against the certification of the election.

On Jan. 25, as first reported by Reuters, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, announced it would suspend all political donations via its PAC. “The NetPAC board has decided that it will not be making any contributions this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certification of the election results.”

Only two days later, according to FEC records, “Alphabet Inc.” directly donated $4,853.29. The donation was to the Thoroughbred PAC, which later gave to two Republican house members who voted against certification. The PAC donated $1,500 to Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) on May 1 and $2500 to Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) on March 26, according to filings.

Alphabet did not respond to TYT’s request for comment.

As first reported by Bloomberg, in March Jetblue donated $1000 to Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican representative from New York who voted against certification. The budget air carrier later defended the move, saying it donates to both Republicans and Democrats.

JetBlue did not respond to TYT’s request for comment.

Ford PAC suspended donations temporarily starting in January. On April 1, as first reported by Reuters, the automaker restarted political donations effective that day. At least, that’s what Ford says. According to FEC filings, the Michigan based company’s PAC resumed donations months before that announcement.

Prior to April 1, the Ford Motor Company Civic Action PAC gave to several lawmakers who voted against certification, FEC filings indicate. One shows that on Feb. 21 the PAC donated $1500 to Loudermilk for Congress. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) was one of the 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the results of the election.

According to FEC filings, on Feb. 2, the automaker’s PAC donated $1,000 to the First in Freedom PAC, sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), who voted against certification. Hudson’s PAC donated to representatives Malliotakis and Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who also voted against certification.

Ford disputes this. And its own filings show no such donations for that time period. Instead, the automaker told TYT, comparable donations had been made in December, prior to the certification objections. Ford’s claim is supported by its December filings. Ford told TYT the donations were sent as paper checks and suggested the discrepancy in reported filing dates lies in the hands of the Republican PACs and treasurers.

TYT reached out to both the First in Freedom and Loudermilk PACs for clarity on the discrepancy, but got no response. The FEC requires PACs to report contributions within ten days of receipt.

A handful of companies that suspended donations to individual politicians supported them indirectly by giving money to PACs, mainly the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).

The NRSC is of particular importance. That PAC is chaired by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), one of the handful of senators to vote against certification.

Ford donated to the NRSC in May after it announced it would resume contributions. The automaker gave $15,000 to the committee. It gave the same amount to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and to the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC).

In a statement to TYT, Ford said, “Our employee PAC makes bipartisan contributions based on a variety of considerations important to customers, our team and our company. They span things like manufacturing, mobility, innovation and trade. We resumed contributions in April after refining our process based on input from PAC members.”

Many other companies contributed to these senators indirectly by supporting PACs. In January, Walmart said it would suspend political donations indefinitely. However, the Arkansas-based retailer donated $30,000 to the NRSC in April.

Then there’s Boeing, which has already had a year straddled with controversy. In January the aeronautics company was criminally charged for lying to the Federal Aviation Administration both before and after the deadly 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019.

In January, Boeing suspended donations, saying in a statement, “Given the current environment, we are not making political contributions at this time. We will continue to carefully evaluate future contributions to ensure that we support those who not only support our company, but also uphold our country’s most fundamental principles.”

As first reported by The Daily Beast, on May 3 Boeing made a slew of donations, including $5,000 to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), $5,000 to Republican House Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), and a staggering $45,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Recount and Legal Fund. Only weeks later, Boeing gave to Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) who also voted against the election certification.

In January, General Electric suspended political donations to representatives who voted against certification for the remainder of the legislative session, which ends in 2023. In April, GE gave $15,000 to the NRSC.

Tobacco giant Altria suspended donations in January. In a statement, the cigarette maker said it decided “to suspend all political contributions while we re-examine our existing contribution criteria and guiding principles.” Since then the cigarette maker donated $15,0000 to the NRSC.

Other companies -- including Lockheed Martin, Cigna, PG&E, Intel, and CVS Health -- donated to the NRCC and NRSC. Lockhead Martin donated $30,000 to the NRSC. PG&E, Intel, CVS and Cigna donated $15,000 each to each of the committees.

Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Cigna, PG&E, CVS Health, AT&T, Aflac and Walgreens donated to the Republican Governance Group PAC. Each company donated $5,000.

Boeing, AT&T, Cigna, PG&E, and Walgreens donated to the Republican MainStreet Partnership PAC, which in turn gave to Reps. Malliotakis and Mike Bost (R-IL). Cigna, PG&E, and Walgreens all donated $5,000.

AT&T also donated $5,000 to the PAC March 8 through the AT&T Inc/WarnerMedia LLC Federal PAC. The telecom giant also donated $5,000 to the House Conservative Fund in February.

Many of the Republicans now benefiting from resumed corporate donations have doubled down on their lies about the election--supporting Trump’s false claims of voter fraud even in the face of new evidence refuting them. And other Republicans squeezing voting rights have benefitted from corporate largesse, as well. TYT revealed last week that multiple corporations pledging to support voting rights helped re-elect the Arizona attorney general who just convinced the Supreme Court to roll them back.

Andy Hirschfeld is a freelance reporter. You can find him on Twitter @andyreports

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