AT&T breaks pledge, directly donates to Republican objectors
On January 11, 2021, five days after the attack on the United States Capitol, AT&T announced that it was suspending contributions to all 147 Republicans who tried to overturn the election results:
Employees on our Federal PAC Board convened a call today and decided to suspend contributions to members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of Electoral College votes this week.
Almost immediately, AT&T began creating loopholes to this commitment and started funneling money indirectly to Republican objectors. A little more than a year later, according to new FEC filings, the company has dropped all pretenses. The company recently donated tens of thousands of dollars directly to the campaigns of more than a dozen Republican objectors. The recipients of these funds include members who aggressively advanced Trump's lies about election fraud.
On February 22, 2021, AT&T donated $5,000 to the House Conservatives Fund. The chair of the House Conservatives Fund is Jim Banks (R-IN), who objected to the certification of the Electoral College weeks earlier. Prior to that vote, Banks signed a Supreme Court amicus brief in support of Texas' case to discard the election results in several states. The House Conservatives Fund is also the primary fundraising vehicle for the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a large caucus of House Republicans. Most members of the RSC voted to overturn the election results.
In March, when AT&T's donation to the House Conservatives Fund first became public, the company told Popular Information that its policy had not changed. Rather, AT&T insisted that the House Conservatives Fund had agreed that its PAC contribution would not support the re-election of objectors.
Our employee PACs continue to adhere to their policy adopted on January 11 of suspending contributions to the re-election campaigns of members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of Electoral College votes. The House Conservative[s] Fund has assured us that none of the employee PAC’s contribution will go toward the re-election of any of those members of Congress.
When Popular Information's report was covered by the Dallas Morning News, AT&T expanded on its commitment. "Any future contributions to multi-candidate PACs will require such consistency with the policy suspending individual contributions," a company spokesperson said.
That position didn't last for long. In August, AT&T donated $15,000 each to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). Approximately two-thirds of members supported by the NRCC voted to overturn the election. And eight Senators supported by the NRSC also objected to the certification of the Electoral College. Collectively, these donations will support the reelection of every Republican objector running for reelection.
Popular Information contacted AT&T and asked it had secured a commitment that none of the funds it donated to the NRCC or NRSC would support Republican objectors. This time, AT&T did not respond. But still AT&T had not donated directly to the campaign of Republican objectors.
That's no longer true. On January 31, 2022, AT&T's PAC donated a total of $67,000 to 16 Republicans who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Among the recipients was Congressman Richard Hudson (R-NC), who received $5,000. Hudson not only voted to overturn the election but defended Trump's false claims about the election a year after the vote.
In November 2021, Hudson told Politico that "there was election fraud" in the 2020 presidential election. He claimed that Trump's lies were "reflecting that accurate belief that we have to shore this stuff up."
Another recipient was Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who received $5,000. On January 7, 2021, Foxx issued a press release defending her vote which never mentioned the violence at the Capitol.
"In the case of Pennsylvania, I could not vote in good conscience to certify electors from the state given the blatant contravention of state law that occurred," Foxx said. "Specifically, these actions give rise to violations of Article II, Section I of the Constitution, and they open the floodgates to more allegations of voter fraud…I take my oath to protect and defend the Constitution very seriously and sitting idly by while it’s trampled over is simply unacceptable."
Foxx's efforts to validate Trump's lies about the 2020 election did not go unnoticed. Last June, Trump endorsed Foxx's reelection, noting that "we can always count on her vote to Make America Great Again." Trump also praised her opposition to his impeachment.
Along with donations to Hudson, Foxx and the campaigns of 14 other Republican objectors, AT&T also sent another $15,000 each to the NRCC and NRSC. AT&T did not respond to a request for comment.
Walmart abandons pledge
Shortly after January 6, 2021, Walmart announced that it was "indefinitely suspending" contributions to members of Congress that voted to overturn the 2020 election.
In light of last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, Walmart’s political action committee is indefinitely suspending contributions to those members of Congress who voted against the lawful certification of state electoral college votes.
In April, Walmart donated $30,000 each to the NRCC and NRSC. But the company refrained from donating directly to Republican objectors.
That's now over. On January 31, 2022, Walmart donated a total of $10,000 to four Republican objectors — Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Senator John Kennedy (R-LA). Walmart also donated an additional $30,000 each to the NRCC and NRSC.
“After reassessing the past several months, we have resumed giving to select members of Congress who contested last year’s election,” a Walmart spokesperson said in response to request for comment. “We’ve long believed we can more effectively advocate on behalf of our associates, customers, communities and shareholders by engaging with policymakers of both parties.”
The Walmart spokesperson compared the Republican objectors in 2020 to seven House Democrats who, after Hillary Clinton conceded, symbolically objected to the certification of the 2016 election.