Corporations donated more than $35.6 million to election deniers
In the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, the most influential corporations in America held themselves out as champions of democracy in the United States. These corporations said Biden was the legitimate winner and that efforts to sow doubts about the outcome were irresponsible, dangerous, and counterproductive.
On January 4, 2021, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — which represents almost every major corporation in the United States — released a statement warning that rejecting or questioning Biden's victory "undermines our democracy and the rule of law and will only result in further division across our nation." On the same day, the Business Roundtable, a lobbying group that represents hundreds of the nation's top CEOs, released a statement saying that "the integrity of the 2020 presidential election is not in doubt." Politicians that continue to question the results, the Business Roundtable said, create "ongoing division and distrust in our political system" and undermine economic growth.
But a comprehensive analysis of corporate political donations over the last two years by Popular Information reveals that Corporate America has not backed up its words with actions. Since January 2021, corporate PACs have donated over $35.6 million dollars to 291 candidates for federal and top statewide offices that continue to deny or question the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
Popular Information analyzed corporate contributions to 291 "election-denying candidates" that were identified by the Washington Post. The list of election deniers includes Republican nominees for House, Senate, and four top statewide elected positions — Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State.
The analysis includes donations directly to the campaigns of election deniers by corporate PACs and corporate trade association PACs. In all, 164 corporate PACs have donated $20,516,430 to election deniers since January 2021. Eighty corporate trade association PACs have donated $15,133,726. A corporate PAC was included in the analysis if it donated at least $50,000 to election deniers since 2021.
Corporate money flowed freely to candidates who aggressively pushed the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. In Congress, Debbie Lesko not only voted to overturn the election on January 6, 2021, but has continued to push disinformation about election fraud ever since. In May 2022, she advanced unhinged conspiracy theories about the 2020 election from the far-right group True The Vote.
Lesko's longstanding efforts to undermine confidence in American democracy did not prevent Lesko from attracting corporate contributions from UPS, Boeing, Anthem, Walmart, Procter & Gamble, Honeywell, Southern Company, Lockheed Martin, FedEx, Verizon, T-Mobile, Koch Industries, Fox Corporation, AT&T, Chevron, Toyota, and many other corporations.
In a 2022 reelection ad, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) asserted that "fake news, Big Tech and blue state liberals stole the election from President Trump." After the ad aired, Ivey attracted support from numerous major corporations, including AT&T, CSX, Motorola, Koch Industries, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, Caterpillar, and NASCAR.
Popular Information's analysis only captures a portion of the corporate financial support for election deniers. It only includes dollars contributed directly to official campaigns. It does not include corporate support for other entities that support election-denying candidates, like 527s and Super PACs. The top 10 individual corporations in our analysis also donated a combined $3,876,950 to two 527 organizations, the Republican Governors Association (RGA) and the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). Nearly all of this money will be spent to support election-denying candidates for Governor and Attorney General.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce itself recently donated $3 million dollars to the Senate Leadership Fund, the Super PAC of Senator Mitch McConnell, which is running tens of millions of ads in support of election-denying Senate candidates, including Herschel Walker, J.D. Vance, Blake Masters, and Adam Laxalt.
Here are the five corporations that have provided the most financial support to election deniers currently running for office:
#1: Koch Industries, $629,000 to election deniers
On November 13, 2020, Charles Koch, the CEO of Koch Industries, told the Wall Street Journal that he had "come to regret his partisanship, which he says badly deepened divisions." The right-wing billionaire congratulated Biden for winning the presidency and called his prior support for right-wing extremists a "screw-up." Moving forward, Koch said, his political spending would be focused on uniting "a diversity of people behind a common goal."
A spokesperson for Koch's non-profit network said that elected officials' "actions leading up to and during last week’s insurrection will weigh heavy in our evaluation of future support." The spokesperson said that Koch will "support those policymakers who reject the politics of division and work together to move our country forward."
Since 2021, however, Koch Industries has donated $629,000 to politicians running for office who continue to deny or question the results of the 2020 election, with $539,500 to federal candidates and $89,500 to state politicians.
In June, Koch Industries donated $5,000 to Ohio Senate candidate J.D Vance (R). In October, The Cincinnati Enquirer asked Vance if Biden was “legitimately elected in 2020.” Vance acknowledged Biden was the president but maintained his election was rigged. “[W]as the election in 2020 free and fair, was it above board? My answer is no, I really don’t think that it was,” Vance said. Koch Industries also donated $5,000 to Nevada Senate Candidate Adam Laxalt (R) in May. Laxalt maintains that the election was illegitimate, stating in August 2021, “There’s no question they rigged the election.”
Koch Industries also donated $10,000 to Ivey and $9,500 to Lesko. The company contributed an additional $380,000 to the RAGA and $750,000 to the RGA.
Koch Industries did not respond to a request for comment.
#2: AT&T, $619,500 to election deniers
On January 7, 2021, AT&T released a statement from CEO John Stankey that said, “Freedom, democracy and rule of law are America’s bedrock and must never be usurped. We congratulate President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris on their Electoral College victory.” AT&T also pledged to “suspend contributions to members of Congress” who voted to overturn the election.
Since 2021, however, AT&T has donated $619,500 to politicians who continue to deny or question the results of the 2020 election, with $385,000 to federal candidates and $234,500 to state politicians.
In February, AT&T donated $10,000 to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R). Following the 2020 election, Paxton filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court seeking to invalidate the votes of four battleground states, arguing that they “exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to justify ignoring federal and state election laws and unlawfully enacting last minute changes, thus skewing the results of the 2020 General Election.” In May, Paxton stood by his decision, calling it a “historic challenge to the unconstitutional 2020 presidential election.”
AT&T also donated $2,000 to Lesko and $15,000 to Ivey. The company contributed an additional $250,100 to the RAGA and $250,000 to the RGA.
AT&T did not respond to a request for comment.
#3: Home Depot, $544,500 to election deniers
After the Capitol insurrection, Home Depot announced it was suspending its political donations "to take time to carefully review and reevaluate each of the members who voted to object to the election results before considering further contributions to them."
Since 2021, however, Home Depot has donated $544,500 to politicians running for office who continue to deny or question the results of the 2020 election, with $537,500 to federal candidates and $7,000 to state politicians.
Home Depot donated $5,000 to Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). During a Congressional hearing, Paul said the 2020 election "in many ways was stolen," claiming that Trump’s efforts to challenge the results in court only failed for "procedural and technical reasons." Weeks after the January 6 insurrection, Paul refused to abandon his claims of a stolen election and called “for an investigation of fraud.”
Home Depot also donated an additional $127,500 to the RAGA and $25,450 to the RGA. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
#4: UPS, $441,100 to election deniers
On January 7, 2021, UPS CEO Carol Tomé tweeted that the outcome of the 2020 presidential election was "clear" and respect for the democratic process is a "fundamental and sacred cornerstone for America." UPS also announced it would indefinitely suspend PAC contributions to all federal candidates.
Since 2021, however, UPS has donated $441,100 to politicians who continue to deny or question the results of the 2020 election, with $411,100 in donations to federal candidates and $30,000 to state politicians.
UPS donated $10,000 to Alabama Senate candidate Katie Britt (R). In March, Britt told AL.com that she “believe[s] that there was fraud” in the 2020 election. “I think you have to have a forensic audit,” Britt said. In June, Trump endorsed Britt, stating that she “Will Fight for… Election Integrity.” UPS also donated $5,500 to Lesko and an additional $30,350 to the RAGA.
UPS sent the following statement to Popular Information:
UPS did pause all contributions following the events in January. Through our employee-run PAC Advisory Committee, we evaluate our political giving regularly based on clearly defined principles. While we do not agree with every vote that every legislator whom we support makes, we look to support candidates who are aligned with us on issues that impact UPS as an enterprise. Engagement with those with whom we disagree is a critical part of the democratic process and our responsibility in legislative advocacy as a company.
#5: Boeing, $427,500 to election deniers
On January 7, 2021, Boeing released a statement from President and CEO David Calhoun that encouraged all elected officials "to work with President-elect Biden to unify our nation.” Boeing released an additional statement on January 13, 2021, that pledged 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.”
Since 2021, however, Boeing has donated $427,500 to politicians running for office who continue to deny or question the results of the 2020 election, with $397,000 in donations on the federal level and $30,500 on the state level.
Boeing donated $2,000 to the reelection campaign of Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R). In March 2022, Marshall repeatedly “refused to call President Joe Biden the ‘duly elected and lawfully serving’ president of the country.” Boeing also donated $10,000 to Ivey and $3,500 to Lesko. The company contributed an additional $75,000 to RAGA and $400,000 to RGA.
In response to a request for comment, Boeing said it did "not have anything to add."
This is really upsetting. Where are my rights as a consumer? I’m paying for a product or a service, not to fund an anti democratic agenda that further limits my rights as a citizen or a consumer especially when these companies are limiting my choices with the assistance of those in government. So how do I choose an internet provider between AT&T and Comcast? Do I pick the lesser of two evils?
What are Americans to do if elected officials do not reform voting and election finance laws? It appears democeacy is doomed?!?