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These corporations broke their pledge to stop donating to Republican objectors
New FEC filings reveal that several major corporations that pledged in January to stop financially supporting members of Congress who tried to overturn the presidential election results broke their pledge in February.
In early January, shortly after false claims of voter fraud inspired a violent attack on the United States Capitol, Intel announced that it would stop PAC contributions to members of Congress that voted against certifying the Electoral College results. Intel said that vote, which attempted to overturn the results of a fair election, was not consistent with "our company's values."
Intel’s Political Action Committee continuously reevaluates its contributions to candidates to ensure that they align with our values, policies and priorities. While Intel's PAC will continue bipartisan contributions, we will not contribute to members of Congress who voted against certification of the Electoral College results as we feel that action was counter to our company's values.
But on February 26, Intel sent a $15,000 PAC contribution to the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC).
The NRCC is the main fundraising vehicle for the Republican caucus of the House of Representatives. Two-thirds of House Republicans, including Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), voted against certifying the Electoral College on January 6. Intel pledged to stop financial supporting members that voted against certification and then, the following month, donated to the NRCC.
Popular Information asked Intel how its February donation to the NRCC was consistent with its January pledge to stop supporting Republican objectors. A spokesperson provided the following response:
Our policy halting direct contributions to members of Congress who voted against certification of the Electoral College results still applies. Intel divides its political contributions evenly among Republicans and Democrats, including individual candidates, campaign committees and Governors Associations. We continuously reevaluate our contributions to ensure that they align with our values, policies and priorities.
Intel's response tacitly acknowledges that it is indirectly backing Republican objectors that it pledged not to support.
On January 11, AT&T issued a statement announcing that its PAC would stop contributing to members of Congress that objected to the Electoral College:
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.
Thirty-five days later, on February 22, AT&T's PAC donated $5,000 to the House Conservatives Fund.
The House Conservatives Fund is the Leadership PAC of Congressman Mike Johnson (R-LA), who voted against certifying the Electoral College on January 6. In a tweet that day, Johnson said he was helping to lead the effort to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Johnson also signed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to invalidate millions of votes in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Johnson was supporting a case filed by the State of Texas, which urged the courts to discard the votes so that Republican legislators could directly appoint pro-Trump electors.
It also serves as the primary vehicle for the Republican Study Committee (RSC). The overwhelming majority of members of the RSC voted to overturn the election results on January 6. The RSC has pushed false claims that the 2020 election was rife with fraud.
Although paperwork has not yet been filed with the FEC, Johnson is expected to be replaced as the chair of the House Conservatives Fund and the RSC by Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN). Banks also objected to the certification of the 2020 presidential election on January 6.
Popular Information asked AT&T how its February donation to the House Conservatives Fund was consistent with its January pledge to stop supporting Republican objectors. A company spokesperson provided the following response:
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 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.
Nevertheless, AT&T is supporting an organization run by a Republican objector and that will spend most of its money securing reelection for Republican objectors. Since money is fungible, the assurances of the House Conservative fund will have little practical effect.
On January 13, Cigna issued a statement saying it would "discontinue support" of any member of Congress that "hindered a peaceful transition of power."
There is never any justification for violence or the kind of destruction that occurred at the U.S. Capitol last week – a building that stands as a powerful symbol of the very democracy that makes our nation strong. Accordingly, CignaPAC will discontinue support of any elected official who encouraged or supported violence, or otherwise hindered a peaceful transition of power.
Less than a month later, on February 4, Cigna's PAC donated $15,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).
The NRSC is run by Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), who objected to the certification of the Electoral College on January 6. Scott personally advanced the false narrative that the 2020 presidential election was subject to significant fraud.
The funds Cigna donated to Scott's NRSC will benefit the other Senate Republicans who voted against certifying the electoral college, including Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), who is up for reelection in 2022.
Cigna also donated $15,000 to the NRCC on February 26. Popular Information asked Cigna how its February donations to the NRCC and NRSC are consistent with its January pledge to stop supporting Republican objectors. "In January, our PAC discontinued support of any elected official that encouraged or supported violence on January 6th, and that remains true," a company spokesperson said. Notably, Cigna statement does not mention that it also pledged to discontinue support for elected officials that "hindered a peaceful transition of power."
The curious case of PNC Bank
On January 12, PNC Bank issued a strong statement condemning the members of Congress who objected to certification of the Electoral College, pledging to cut off financial support.
PNC strongly condemns the violent actions taken last week in an attempt to disrupt the Electoral College process in Congress. Free and fair elections, the rule of law, and the peaceful transfer of power are all critical cornerstones of American democracy that must be upheld. In light of last week’s events, the PNC PAC has suspended contributions to those members of Congress who voted against the certification of the nation’s valid Electoral College votes.
There is no indication that PNC itself violated that pledge. But it may be exploiting a loophole.
Unlike PNC, BBVA's PAC did not issue a statement regarding the members of Congress who voted against certifying the Electoral College. Despite the fact that BBVA will only exist for a few more weeks as an independent entity, its PAC has been quite active. In February, BBVA's PAC donated $15,000 each to the NRSC and the NRCC.
Popular Information asked PNC if it had any involvement in the operation of BBVA's PAC, in light of the imminent closing of the acquisition. Shortly after this article’s initial publication, a PNC spokesperson said that “since the transaction, which continues to require regulatory approval, has not closed, PNC and BBVA continue to operate as two separate financial institutions.”
Dell resists pressure
There is an ongoing campaign by lobbyists and Congressional staff to pressure corporations to resume donating to Republican members that voted to overturn the election results. Fundraisers "have reached out to corporations, encouraging them to remove their restrictions and resume contributing," CNBC reports. The effort includes "people and groups with ties to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell."
Dell is publicly resisting these tactics:
“We have no plans to revisit the decision to suspend contributions to members of Congress whose statements and activities during the post-election period weren’t in line with Dell Technologies’ principles,” a company spokesperson told CNBC. “Our employee-led PAC board meets regularly to discuss current events and to vote on key decisions like changes to PAC contributions. All PAC contributions are a matter of public record so you will be able to stay informed on any future updates.”
Most companies are not commenting publicly, but FEC filings indicate they have not resumed donating to members of Congress that objected to the certification of the Electoral College.
Popular Information identified 63 companies that pledged to suspend giving to Republican objectors. Thus far, only three of these companies have donated to committees affiliated with the objectors, according to FEC records.
It has only been a few weeks, however, since the pledges were issued. And only a small fraction of political donations have been subject to disclosure in 2021. Corporate PACs can elect to file just twice per year in 2021. That means they won't have to file their first report until July. There will be a more complete initial picture in April, when every Congressional candidate will have to make their first quarterly report of 2021.
Popular Information also has a plan to comprehensively monitor corporate PAC activity in the months and years ahead. Today’s edition demonstrates why this work is so essential.
But Popular Information is a two-person newsletter, and this is a massive undertaking. It will involve tens of thousands of campaign finance records from dozens of federal and state databases.
You can help Popular Information expand its capacity so we can do this work with a paid subscription.
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