Republican Donations Surge Despite Corporate Boycott After Capitol Riots

Right after the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, dozens of U.S. companies announced they would halt political donations to the 147 Republican lawmakers who voted to overturn Donald Trump’s presidential election loss. Two months later, there is little sign that the corporate revolt has done any real damage to Republican fundraising, Reuters writes.

If anything, the biggest backers of Trump’s false election-fraud narrative – such as Missouri Senator Josh Hawley and Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene – have been rewarded with a flood of grassroots donations, more than offsetting the loss of corporate money. And contributions from both small donors and rich individuals looking to fight the Democratic agenda have poured into the party’s fundraising apparatus.

The boycott’s limited impact underscores the diminishing role of corporate money in U.S. politics. Individual donations of $200 or less have made up a growing share of campaign money in recent years, while the share given by corporate America shrinks. That trend has accelerated with the rise of anti-establishment figures on both the right and left, such as Trump and progressive firebrand Bernie Sanders, a Vermont senator.

Reuters examined contributions by more than 45 corporate donor committees that vowed to cut off the 147 Republicans – eight senators and 139 members of the House of Representatives. The review found that the political action committees (PACs) gave about $5 million to the lawmakers during the 2019-2020 election cycle – or only about 1% of the money the lawmakers raised, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) disclosures.

By comparison, Republican fundraising operations supporting Senate and House candidates raked in a combined $15.8 million in January alone on the strength of small-dollar donations. These groups outraised their Democratic counterparts by more than $2 million that month, regulatory filings show.

Interviews with Republican operatives, big-money donors and fundraisers revealed little apprehension that corporate outrage over the Jan. 6 Capitol riots would damage the party’s fundraising for the 2022 congressional elections.

Dan Eberhart, a major Republican fundraiser, said he had predicted for years that Trump’s support would collapse. He believed the Capitol insurrection would be the tipping point.

“The data is the opposite,” Eberhart said. “You are seeing a hardening of support for Trump … I think there will be no shortage of money.”

Some Republicans and lobbyists believe that companies now backing away from the 147 lawmakers – or from political giving entirely – will reconsider that stance as their interests are threatened by the policies of a Democratic White House and Congress.

“The Democrats have become our best fundraisers,” said Fred Zeidman, a Republican donor and fundraiser in Houston and chairman of investment bank Gordian Group.

In a sign the corporate backlash may already be fading, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s leading business lobby, said Friday that it has decided not to boycott the Republican lawmakers after discussions with more than 100 companies.

Ashlee Rich Stephenson, the chamber’s political strategist, wrote in a memo to members that there is a “meaningful difference” between members who voted to overturn the election in some states and those who “continue to engage in repeated action and undermine the legitimacy of our elections,” such as trumpeting debunked conspiracy theories.

Among the more than 45 corporate PACs examined by Reuters, the five that donated the most to federal candidates in the 2019-2020 election cycle are controlled by AT&T, Comcast, Honeywell, Home Depot and New York Life Insurance.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which supports House candidates, raised $7.5 million in January, outpacing its Democratic counterpart by about $500,000, FEC filings show.

The Republican organization backing Senate candidates is chaired by Florida Senator Rick Scott, who voted after the Capitol riots to overturn Pennsylvania’s Electoral College results. It collected more than $8.3 million in January, compared to $6.1 million received by its Democratic counterpart.

That performance came despite the dearth of corporate contributions. Ten corporate PACs examined by Reuters slashed donations in January by more than 90% compared to the same month in 2017, right after the previous presidential election. All ten of the PACs had sworn off donating to the 147 lawmakers.

Asked about the corporate boycott, NRCC chairman Tom Emmer, a Minnesota congressman, told Reuters that Republican House members “don’t answer to PACs. We answer to voters.”

The Senate fundraising committee did not respond to requests for comment.

The waning importance of corporate money reflects a fundamental shift in fundraising over the past decade as the advent of online platforms such as Act Blue and WinRed made it easy to solicit donations from rank-and-file voters. Individual donations, small and large, accounted for two-thirds of funding for last year’s elections. PACs made up only about 4%, down from 9% in 2016, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. PACs are typically controlled by corporations, industry groups and labor groups.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.