These corporations just donated to a Republican group that helped create the January 6 mob
"The march to save America is tomorrow in Washington D.C… At 1:00 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal. We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our elections."
That was an excerpt from robocalls sent on January 5 by the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), through its self-described "policy branch," the Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF).
RAGA's involvement in building the mob that carried out the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol, however, has not dissuaded numerous major corporations from donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to RAGA in 2021. The donations were revealed in disclosures filed this week with the IRS.
RAGA's complicity in the events of January 6 extends beyond the robocalls. The organization also played a key role in setting the predicate for what devolved into a violent riot. Weeks before Election Day, RAGA pushed conspiracy theories suggesting Democrats were plotting to "steal" the election.
Shortly after news of the robocalls broke, Adam Piper, RAGA's executive director, resigned. But Piper did not explain his resignation or express regret about the robocalls or other activities RAGA engaged in to undermine confidence in the election results. “Serving Republican attorneys general has been the honor of a lifetime and honestly a dream job,” Piper said.
After Piper's resignation, RAGA's actions made it clear that it did not view the robocalls as a mistake. In April, the group promoted Peter Bisbee, who authorized the robocalls as the head of the RLDF, to be the new executive director of RAGA.
The decision to promote Bisbee prompted numerous members of RAGA's staff and leadership to resign. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr (R), the chairman of RAGA, stepped down shortly after Bisbee's promotion, citing a “fundamental difference of opinion” that began with “vastly opposite views of the significance of the events of January 6.” Carr was replaced as chair by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson (R), who joined the Texas lawsuit, filed in the Supreme Court, that sought to overturn the election by throwing out millions of votes in key states.
Several members of RAGA's staff, including Finance Director Ashley Trenzeluk, also left because of the decision to elevate Bisbee. This is an excerpt of Trenzeluk's resignation letter published by the Alabama Political Reporter:
As RLDF Executive Director, Pete Bisbee approved the robocall expenditure, and was the only other person accountable for RLDF involvement in the January 6 events. Over the last few months, I have fielded, reassured and assuaged concerns from our core donor base on the future direction of our organization. The result of the executive committee vote to nominate Pete as RAGA’s Executive Director is a decision I cannot defend.
Some corporate donors to RAGA, however, seemed unconcerned about the organization's involvement in the events of January 6 and its new leadership. When news of the RAGA robocalls broke in January, Yelp told Popular Information that it was "suspending and reviewing our political contributions in light of last week's events." But on February 5, according to RAGA's new IRS filing, Yelp donated $15,000 to RAGA.
"The 2021 contribution was approved before the events of January 6th and we notified RAGA on January 10th that we were suspending future contributions as a result," Yelp said in response to a request for comment from Popular Information.
In response to a question about RAGA's robocalls, Smile Direct Club told Popular Information in January that it is "committed to ensuring that any organization we support financially aligns with our corporate values and are closely monitoring news that develops on what led to the unspeakable events that occurred at the Capitol." On June 17, however, Smile Club Direct donated $25,000 to RAGA.
Asked whether it would donate to RAGA in the future, Mastercard told Popular Information in January that it had "not finalized any decisions related to our policy-related spending." In a separate statement, Mastercard decried the "lawless violence" of January 6 and the effort to undermine the "smooth transition of power." It also pledged not to donate to any of the members of Congress who voted to overturn the election.
Simple decency and sober reflection require us to account for the events in Washington this past week -- not just the lawless violence, but also elected United States representatives seeking to subvert the decision of the people in the recent Presidential election. In our political system, nothing is more important than the smooth transition of power when voters have spoken. Accordingly, effective immediately, we have suspended Political Action Committee giving to member of Congress (House of Representatives and Senate) who voted to object to the certification of the 2020 Presidential election. We will continue to review the criteria that inform our political contributions to ensure they reflect our values.
On March 24, Mastercard donated $25,000 to RAGA.
AT&T has also pledged to withhold donations from members of Congress who voted to overturn the election because of their complicity in the January 6 attack. But AT&T donated $125,000 to RAGA on April 30.
On April 2, Match Group — which owns popular dating apps like Tinder and Hinge — donated $5,000 to RAGA. Three days later, on April 5, Match Group donated another $5,000.
Match Group, Smile Direct Club, Mastercard, and AT&T did not respond to a request for comment.
RAGA's overall fundraising takes a hit
In early July, RAGA put out a press release touting its "record" fundraising in 2021. It generated this headline from Fox News:
This, however, was all spin. For the first half of 2021, RAGA raised $6,745,370. That's down substantially from the first half of 2019 when RAGA raised $8,516,438. It's also less than RAGA raised in the first half of 2017. (RAGA attempted to avoid this comparison by only focusing on the second quarter.)
As Axios notes, some major corporations that have donated to RAGA in the past — including Facebook, Amazon, Walmart, Visa, Capital One, Johnson & Johnson, and CocaCola — have not donated to RAGA this year.
But even RAGA's modest $6.7 million haul is inflated by a $2.5 million contribution from The Concord Fund, a dark money slush fund — previously known as the Judicial Crisis Network — that keeps its donors secret.
Corporations fund the RAGA
Popular Information contacted 21 companies and law firms who made large donations to the RAGA in 2021 and asked if they were aware of RAGA’s involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol Riot and if, in light of this, they would continue to support the RAGA in the future. Only Yelp responded.
One of the largest donations came from Las Vegas Sands, the massive casino company owned by GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, which donated $125,000 to the RAGA in 2021. Koch Industries ($125,000) and Anheuser-Busch ($105,265) also made large contributions in 2021.
Among RAGA’s donor lists were also several of the nation’s largest law firms. Dentons, a global law firm, gave $25,000 to RAGA. Jones Day, a large law firm that represented the Trump campaign for years, donated $25,000 to RAGA. Other prominent law firms that made sizable donations to the RAGA this year include Venable ($25,000), McGuireWoods ($15,000), and Holland & Knight ($25,000).
Other major companies that made significant contributions to RAGA after the January 6 attack include Pfizer $51,225, T-Mobile ($50,000), Nationwide ($50,000), Postmates ($40,000), Carvana ($15,350),Monster Energy ($15,000), and Carmax ($15,000).
See below for a list of corporate donations to the RAGA:
UPDATE: CDC issues new eviction moratorium
On Tuesday morning, Popular Information reported that the Biden administration claimed that the CDC could not identify legal authority to issue a new eviction moratorium. We questioned whether that was true.
By Tuesday afternoon, the CDC had changed its tune and issued a 60-day extension of the moratorium that covers about 90% of renters. You can read the new order HERE.
Law firm donations are particularly galling. If ANYONE should stay out of the fray…thank you Popular Information.
Just read a column from a journalist friend who cited Jane Mayer’s(The New Yorker)deep dive into the really big money behind all the turmoil being stirred up by this nasty, insurgent right wing. Her article is lengthy and quite in depth. We keep seeing these corporations doing the dirty but what Ms Mayer uncovered makes these guys look like pikers.
Also I just caught an Axios article on Face Book that looks almost identical to yours today.