UPDATE: Republican lobbyists are "frustrated," push corporate PACs to resume contributions

It's been more than 10 months since a pro-Trump mob, inspired by Republican members who had pledged to vote to overturn the results of the presidential election, stormed the Capitol. Following the January 6 riot, dozens of corporations pledged to suspend corporate PAC contributions to the 147 Republicans who objected to the certification of the electoral college. An even larger number of corporations announced they would pause all of their political giving. 

Now it's November and Republican lobbyists are aggravated that the corporate campaign cash has not fully resumed. "GOP lobbyists at major companies have grown frustrated with expectations that they are supposed to deliver results for their businesses while unable to give to those members who objected to the results of the election," Politico reports. One lobbyist warned that if the money did not start flowing soon "the GOP’s frustration with the business community over the lack of donations could cause the party to be less amenable to corporate interests."

A "group of GOP K Streeters" held a fundraiser last Tuesday for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH), who both voted to overturn the election results on January 6. If Republicans regain the majority in 2022, McCarthy would likely be House Speaker and Jordan would likely be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The lobbyists, however, "had 'trouble raising' PAC money for the event."

It's true that some high-profile corporations, including Cigna, Eli Lily, and AT&T, have broken the pledges they made after January 6. But many others, according to Popular Information's January 6 Corporate Accountability Index, have kept their word. 

At least 38 major corporations pledged not to donate to any of the 147 Republican objectors and have kept their word. This group has not donated to the Republican objectors directly or indirectly through multi-candidate PACs. This groups includes: Allstate, Amazon, American Express, CBS, Dell, General Mills, Kraft Heinz, Lyft, Mastercard, Microsoft, Marriott, Nike, Sony Music, State Street, Walgreens, Walt Disney, and Zillow.

Another group of 48 companies announced that they had suspended all donations after January 6 and subsequently have not donated to any Republican objectors or multi-candidate committees that support Republican objectors. This group includes Bank of America, Blackrock, Capital One, Citigroup, Clorox, Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Facebook, Farmers Insurance, Goldman Sachs, Hilton, Intuit, McDonald's, Nationwide, Prudential Financial, Target, Travelers, and Whirlpool.

According to Politico, however, Republican lobbyists are confident the dam is about to break:

“After talking to several clients today, they’ll be a lot more aggressively Republican giving” over the next six months, said Brian Ballard, a top GOP lobbyist with ties to the former Trump administration, in an interview on Wednesday. He added that things were finally looking up for Republican campaigns, in terms of donations from his firm’s corporate clients: “It’s much more bullish for Republicans than it was perhaps six months ago.”

But lobbyists have been making these kinds of predictions for months. In February, lobbyists told the Wall Street Journal that "companies will resume giving to their Republican and Democratic allies as soon as lawmakers begin moving new tax and regulatory policies through Congress." One lobbyist insisted that "D.C. can have a short memory" and January 6 would soon be a distant memory. For many corporations, this has not been the case. 

In March, Popular Information reported on a webinar hosted by the National Association of Business PACs (NABPAC) in which Mike DuHaime, a prominent Republican operative and crisis communications consultant, provided strategic and messaging advice about how to restart political donations to the 147 Republicans who voted not to certify the Electoral College results. DuHaime told the corporate PACs to "do what's right for your organization" and "deal with the fallout." He predicted that resuming contributions to Republican objectors "most likely… would be a one day story and most likely you are not going to lose customer share over it." Many corporations appear to have rejected this advice. 

Bloomberg reported in March that "Wall Street firms are quietly preparing to resume political giving in the next few months, marking an end to a freeze that many corporations vowed to impose after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol in January." But many top Wall Street firms have not resumed their donations. 

In May, NABPAC executive director Micaela Isler said that many corporations "in a place where they feel they can...move forward" with PAC donations. She predicted that donations would begin to increase in the coming quarter. Corporate PAC contributions have increased somewhat, but numerous corporations who made pledges still do not feel comfortable resuming their donations. 

Are the Republican lobbyists right this time? Will there be a flood of corporate PAC contributions to GOP objectors in the coming months? To a certain degree, that depends on whether corporations believe people are paying attention. Popular Information will continue to hold corporations accountable. We regularly update the status of corporation PAC commitments made after January 6 HERE

How anti-CRT legislation threatens free speech

Conservatives in 24 states have enacted or introduced legislation “intended to restrict teaching and training in K-12 schools, higher education, and state agencies and institutions,” according to a report released yesterday by PEN America, an organization that works to protect free expression. The bills were introduced in response to allegations that Critical Race Theory (CRT) was infiltrating schools and "target discussions of race, racism, gender, and American history."

The PEN America report argues that anti-CRT legislation represents a significant threat to free speech in classrooms. According to the report, by “seeking to silence race- or gender-based critiques of U.S. society … these bills are likely to disproportionately affect the free speech rights of students, educators, and trainers who are women, people of color, and LGBTQ+.”

The report argues the legislation is designed to “chill academic and educational discussions and impose government dictates on teaching and learning” and could lead to a “sweeping crusade for content- and viewpoint-based state censorship.”   

There were 54 bills, which the report calls “educational gag orders” that were introduced or pre-filed between January and September 2021 in 24 states. Only nine of the bills target Critical Race Theory explicitly. 

As of October 1, eleven of these bills have been enacted into law. Nine of these laws apply to public schools in eight states: Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. 

In Oklahoma, the new law was used to “justify suspending a sociology course” that covered race and ethnicity. At Iowa State University, professors were provided written guidance for “how to avoid ‘drawing scrutiny’ for their teaching.” In Texas, teachers were instructed "to balance books on the Holocaust with books with 'opposing views.'" In Tennessee, the law was used to challenge "the teaching of civil rights activist Ruby Bridges’s autobiographical picture book about school desegregation." 

There are 18 bills that are still pending, and another 24 bills that have been introduced.

PEN America found that 42 of these bills appear to have been influenced by former President Trump’s 2020 Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, and that most of the bills include “a list of prohibited ‘divisive concepts’ related to ‘race and sex stereotyping’ that mirror the Executive Order’s language.” 

In September 2020, Trump issued an Executive Order that “adopted sweeping rules that defined particular ‘divisive concepts’ dealing with race and sex in America, such as the argument that ‘the United States is fundamentally a racist country.’” It banned these concepts from all federal employee training, including training offered to employees of any institution contracted with the federal government, and U.S. military training. 

According to the New York Times, Trump’s Executive Order was inspired by an interview he witnessed on Fox News. In the interview, Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at conservative think tank the Manhattan Institute, stated that Trump “must immediately issue” an executive order “abolishing critical race theory trainings from the federal government.” Soon after, Trump issued his Executive Order.