On Sunday, Popular Information broke the news that three major corporations — Marriott, BlueCross BlueShield, and Commerce Bank — were suspending PAC donations to the 147 Republicans who objected to the Electoral College vote. This newsletter uncovered this information by asking 144 companies if they planned to continue supporting the politicians who tried to overturn the election.
Popular Information's report quickly became a national and international story, receiving coverage in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, The Financial Times, Reuters, MarketWatch, Forbes, Business Insider, The Daily Beast, Axios, and other publications.
Why was the story picked up so extensively? The three companies were cutting off donations to more than half of the Republicans in Congress. As Public Citizen explained, that kind of action is virtually unprecedented in corporate America.
“These corporations are doing something very new, and something that could potentially alienate an important base for them,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a money-in-politics group. “I’ve never heard of this happening before.”
Popular Information does not accept advertising and is funded exclusively by readers. Last year, that support enabled Popular Information to hire its first research assistant, Tesnim Zekaria. This project, which involved analyzing thousands of FEC records and contacting nearly 150 companies over two days, would not have been possible without her.
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You can read more about Popular Information's impact last year HERE.
More corporations take action
Since the initial publication of the report, Popular Information obtained an internal memo from Citigroup regarding the company's PAC. The memo, authored by Citi's Head of Global Government Affairs, Candi Wolff, said that Citigroup's PAC would "not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law." Further, the company will suspend all its PAC activity for the first three months of the year.
Popular Information also obtained an internal memo written by Deloitte CEO Joe Ucuzoglu and Board Chair Janet Foutty that was sent to the company's leadership. The Deloitte executives note there has been a "high volume of questions within the firm… and on social media on how Deloitte PAC makes decisions for PAC giving." Ocuzoglu and Foutty do not announce any specific changes but said that a "revised PAC strategy" is being developed and promised to engage the company's leadership on the topic "in the near term."
Other companies became more responsive. 3M, who initially declined to comment, told Popular Information on Sunday evening that the company has "adopted a hold on all federal and state political expenditures for the first quarter of the year" and "will reassess its political contributions policy in April 2021."
T-Mobile, which initially did not respond to Popular Information's inquiry, sent the following statement on Sunday:
The assault on the U.S. Capitol and on democracy was unacceptable. T-Mobile has supported many elected officials in a bipartisan approach to advancing a policy agenda that keeps the U.S. on the forefront of wireless technology. In light of recent events, we intend to reevaluate our PAC giving, and we look forward to working with the incoming Administration.
Walmart told Reuters that it regularly reviews its donations to “examine and adjust our political giving strategy” and "will factor last week’s events into our process.” JPMorgan told the Wall Street Journal that it will suspend all of their political donations for six months.