Coporate donor backlash follows Capitol riot, but will it last?
Major corporations, and the lobbyists who advise them in Washington, are in crisis mode as they grapple with a backlash of their political support to lawmakers who voted against certifying states’ Electoral College results even after a violent mob infiltrated the Capitol.
Some companies have said they will temporarily pause all their publicly disclosed campaign donations. Others said they would cut off the lawmakers who, in line with President Donald Trump and the attempted insurrectionists he incited, voted to decertify the electoral wins of President-elect Joe Biden. Campaign finance overhaul groups said they would ramp up their pressure on companies to keep to such promises and urged them to seek refunds of past contributions.
Still, corporate denizens and political donors may dispatch political money through more opaque channels, such as nonprofit organizations and trade associations that are not required to disclose the sources of money. And it remains unclear whether companies that have suspended their political action committees, or cut off certain lawmakers from donations, could reverse those decisions in the near, or distant, future.
“My sense is this is a moment of truth,” said Bruce Freed, president and co-founder of the Center for Political Accountability, which encourages companies to adopt its model code of conduct for corporate political spending, which he said more companies were likely to look into given recent events.
“Whether a company is directly contributing to or spending in elections or indirectly participating through payments to political or advocacy organizations, a code commits senior management and directors to responsible participation in our nation’s politics,” Freed added.