Taking it to the Banks

A member of the House Republican leadership who, earlier this year, advised his party to rebuff support from corporate PACs has subsequently accepted tens of thousands in corporate PAC donations. 

Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN) is the chairman of the influential Republican Study Committee (RSC), a caucus of conservative House members that includes most of the Republican caucus. Part of the job of the RSC is to provide strategic advice to help its 153 members get reelected. So when many RSC members faced a backlash for voting to overturn the election on January 6, they turned to Banks for answers. 

Banks, who is a close ally of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), laid out his political game plan in a March 30 memo. Banks' overall message was for Republicans to continue to align themselves with Trump, writing that the party should "hug the agenda that differentiated President Trump," including "a hard line on immigration," "opposition to China," and "anti-wokeness." Banks argued that these positions will cement Republicans as the "Party of the Working Class."

But what about the corporate PACs that were pledging to cut off support for Republican objectors? Banks was dealing with the issue himself because he objected to the certification of the Electoral College. In his memo, Banks suggested that Republicans should repudiate corporate support and use the issue to attack Democratic opponents.

Members should use corporations' preference for the Democrat Party to drive individual donations…

Our digital fundraising efforts should be paired with an explicit message: "I’m asking for a small donation, so that I can continue to represent your values, not the values of liberal multinational corporations determined to replace conservatives like me."

Every Republican Member in a competitive district should know exactly how much corporate cash their opponent received in 2020, and they should relay those numbers to their constituents. The NRCC should arm Members with that information and commission advertisements that contrast Republican challengers with corporate-backed Democrat incumbents.

Banks' memo received a floodofpress attention. During an April 11 appearance on Fox News, Banks bragged about his fundraising success after "moving away" from corporate PAC donations.

HILTON: There was one aspect of your memo I loved which was your own personal story in your district, about how you actually did better as a result of moving away from those big corporate donations...

BANKS: Yes, Steve, I learned a really big lesson… It's the right way forward for the Republican Party.

A website set up by Banks, Working Class GOP, highlights a Tucker Carlson segment where Carlson praises Banks for calling for the party to distance itself from corporate America.

Banks' campaign finance filings, however, tell a different story. FEC data compiled by End Citizens United and provided to Popular Information, show that, since authoring the memo, Banks has accepted $49,000 from corporate PACs. 

Since April 1, Banks has received corporate PAC money from L3Harris Technologies ($10,000), BAE Systems ($5,000),  Lockheed Martin ($2,000), General Dynamics ($2,000), Booz Allen Hamilton ($1,000), and Duke Energy ($1000), among others. 

One simple step to increase the vaccination rate

With the highly contagious Delta variant spreading rapidly in areas with low vaccination rates, there is renewed interest in convincing more people to get vaccinated. According to a new poll, a significant portion of the unvaccinated population (24%) could be convinced to get vaccinated if they received paid time off to receive the vaccine. Giving workers paid time off is much more effective than other tactics including celebrity endorsements or community outreach. 

This finding is consistent with a Kaiser Family Foundation survey from June which found that workers that received paid time off were much more likely to have been vaccinated. "Three-quarters of those who got paid time off say they’ve received at least one dose of the vaccine compared to about half (51%) of those who did not have this benefit," the survey found

On April 21, recognizing that concerns about missed work are a barrier for many people, President Biden called on "every employer in America to offer full pay to their employees for any time off needed to get vaccinated and for any time it takes to recover from the after-effects of vaccination."

Companies with less than 500 employees are eligible for a tax credit "to provide full pay for any time their employees need to get a COVID-19 vaccination or recover from that vaccination." Larger companies, however, are on the honors system.

But, as Popular Information reported in May, many major employers are not providing paid time off to get vaccinated or recover from any side effects. CVS, for example, is "is not offering additional paid time off for vaccination." A CVS pharmacist told Popular Information that the “company made it very difficult to figure out if they offered additional time off for the vaccine,” describing CVS’s lack of support as “extremely disappointing.”

Some local governments are making paid time off mandatory. Workers in the City of Los Angeles, for example, are "entitled to paid time off to get vaccinated for COVID-19, including traveling to and from the appointment, as well as recovering from the side effects of vaccination, if it prevents the employee from being able to work or telework."