In the wake of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, many of the most recognized U.S. brands clapped back at the crowd otherwise known as the U.S. election deniers — generally by announcing they would stop, or “reexamine,” giving any donations to their campaigns. Many were surely chastened by the ties they had to many of the rioters who defaced the Capitol while threatening the lives of both Republican and Democratic leaders.
Two years later, it appears that promise has been largely forgotten. Accountable.US crunched the numbers and found that 50 companies within the Fortune 100 that had pledged to stop any campaign contribution to the 2020 election deniers have changed their tune, a shift that amounts to almost $5.5 million in total.
In total, corporate donations linked to companies that had at one time called out election deniers on Capitol Hill amounted to just over $10 million during the past campaign season, according to analyses by Accountable.US and other watchdog groups.
“So many corporations sought recognition for halting political spending after January 6, then quietly reopened the money spigot to election deniers when they thought no one was paying attention,” said Jeremy Funk, the media relations director of Accountable.US, wrote in an emailed statement to TriplePundit. “Companies that claimed to be allies for democracy then rewarded millions to lawmakers that tried to finish what the insurrectionists started have shown they were never serious.”
The A-to-W roster of companies cuts across just about every industry, from healthcare to insurance to retail to technology. The list of companies that have resumed political donations includes Allstate, Cigna, GM, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and UPS.
In fairness, there are companies that have kept their word so far when it comes to refusing to send donations to election deniers, including AIG, Coca-Cola, HP, Nike and Target.
As Politico pointed out, for many of the 147 members of Congress who sought to overturn the 2020 election results, that $10.2 million in aggregate corporate contributions is a small percentage of what these politicians raised during the 2022 midterms campaign — political donations to them made in total surpassed more than $350 million.
Nevertheless, for many of these election deniers, such contributions from these companies hardly amounted to chump change. Take Kevin McCarthy, the presumptive Speaker of the House for the 118th Congress (presumptive as off press time), who spoke out immediately after the Capitol Riots, then soon flew down to Florida to visit former president Trump to make amends and has since been adamant in denying that any harm was done during the January 6 insurrection — Politico’s Jessica Piper and Zach Montellaro concluded that McCarthy raised $285 from political action committees (PACs) linked to companies that had spoken out against election deniers two years ago.
“The rhetoric that fed the riots has continued to be embraced by scores of Republican politicians, and they in turn have been kept in the fold by some of the big outside interests who condemned their position at the time,” wrote Piper and Montellaro earlier today. “The turnaround also raises questions about what the corporations that paused contributions and later turned them back on were hoping to accomplish with their stand — besides a fleeting PR win.”
Many U.S. companies already appeared to put the Capitol riots in the rearview mirror less than a year after they occurred. Here's what companies could do instead, as 3p’s Tina Casey wrote one year ago as she called out corporate America for “sitting on their hands” rather than continuing to take a stand for U.S. democracy.
“Leading U.S. corporations spend billions each year to convince the buying public to buy what they’re selling,” said Casey, adding, “They could make a difference by spending a fraction of that on [campaigns] that help convince the voting public that violent insurrection is wrong, that the peaceful transfer of power is the bedrock of American democracy, that voter fraud is virtually nonexistent, and that every U.S. citizen age 18 and over should have equal access to the ballot box.”
Image credit: U.S. DHS via Wiki Commons
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.