What we learned from the first FEC deadline of 2022
This week brought the first FEC deadline of the year — and it was a doozy. Nearly every committee and campaign were required to file. Popular Information sorted through that mountain of data and came to the following conclusion: not that much has changed.
Nearly every corporation that maintained its commitment to withhold funds from Republican objectors last year continued to do so. Corporate lobbyists insist that January 6 is in the rearview mirror and corporate PACs must restart the flow of cash to the objectors. But the dam has not broken yet.
There are some exceptions, however, including significant shifts by major companies.
After January 6, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon posted this heartfelt message on LinkedIn, condemning the attack:
For years, our democracy has built a reservoir of goodwill around the world that brings important benefits for our citizens. Recently, we have squandered that goodwill at an alarming pace, and today’s attack on the U.S. Capitol does further damage. It’s time for all Americans to come together and move forward with a peaceful transition of power. We have to begin reinvesting in our democracy and rebuilding the institutions that have made America an exceptional nation.
The company then announced it was suspending all political donations. Through all the FEC deadlines last year, Goldman Sachs did not donate to Republican objectors or political committees that support them.
That changed on December 20, 2021, when Goldman Sachs donated $2,500 to Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
The donation is notable for two reasons. First, Luetkemeyer is one of the members of Congress who is most dependent on corporate PAC donations. A Popular Information analysis last month found that Luetkemeyer, a powerful member of the House Financial Services Committee, had seen a sharp decline in both corporate PAC donations and total fundraising as compared to the last election cycle.
Second, Luetkemeyer reportedly threatened to put corporations that cut off his funding on an "enemies list."
Underscoring the potential danger for financial companies, senior Financial Services member Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri, a Republican, recently told donors that if corporations were going to put him on an enemies list, he would create a list of his own, said a person who attended the meeting.
Chad Ramey, Luetkemeyer’s chief of staff, said that while he couldn’t discuss the specifics of any meeting, “the congressman has never referred to anyone as an enemy.”
Another corporation making a change was Comcast. After the January 6 attack, Comcast said it would "suspend all of our political contributions to those elected officials who voted against certification of the electoral college votes, which will give us the opportunity to review our political giving policies and practices."
In May, Comcast donated to the NRCC and the NRSC, the umbrella organizations that support all House and Senate Republicans, including the 147 objectors. But, in December, Comcast donated a total of $17,500 to seven individual Republican objectors.
Cigna goes all in
Cigna, which has previously donated to Republican objectors, accelerated its spending. On January 13, 2021, the health insurance giant issued a statement saying it would "discontinue support" of any member of Congress that "hindered a peaceful transition of power."
In the first three months of 2021, Cigna donated to six members of Congress that hindered a peaceful transition of power by objecting to the certification of the Electoral College — Congressmen Byron Donalds (R-FL), Tom Rice (R-SC), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Jodey Arrington (R-TX), and Billy Long (R-MO).
Cigna told the New York Times that these donations didn't violate its pledge to elected officials who "hindered a peaceful transition of power" because congressional votes are “by definition, part of the peaceful transition of power.” The company's official position is that voting to overturn the election is part of the "peaceful transition of power."
Since then, Cigna has widened its support for Republican objectors, donating a total of $86,000 to 23 members of Congress who voted to overturn the election, plus the NRCC and the NRSC.
Cigna's recent donations include members who not only voted against certification but vocally advanced Trump's false claims about election fraud to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. On December 22, Cigna donated $2,500 to Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK).
You can check out a fully updated list of what companies have kept their promises — and which haven't — HERE.
CORRECTION (2/3): This article initially reported that the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which was one of the first companies to announce it was cutting off Republican objectors, also made its first donation to an objector — $5,000 to Congressman Mike Rogers (R-AL). This is how the Rogers campaign reported the donation to the FEC. But the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association tells Popular Information that the FEC report was filed in error and the donation came from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, a related but operationally separate entity. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association says they have not resumed donating to the 147 Republican objectors and have asked for Rogers’ FEC report to be corrected.