A Company Backlash – The New York Occasions

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Large corporations and their lobbyists usually try to stay out of chaotic political battles. Businesses prefer to work behind the scenes, giving money to both parties, and tacitly influencing tax policy, spending and regulation.

But President Trump’s efforts to reverse the result of the presidential election – and the violent attack by his supporters on Congress – have created a dilemma for many companies. A growing number have decided that they are unwilling, at least for the time being, to support members of Congress who supported Trump’s election result change efforts and promoted lies about electoral fraud.

Over the weekend, several major corporations – Marriott, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Commerce Bancshares – announced a suspension of donations to Congressmen who voted against the election certificate. Yesterday the list expanded to include Amazon, AT&T, Comcast, Airbnb, Mastercard, Verizon and Dow, the chemical company. Hallmark even reclaimed money from two of the senators who opposed certification, Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall.

“That would have been unthinkable just a few days ago” Judd Legum – the author of the Popular Information newsletter, which has been the best contributor to corporate donations recently – told me.

In the Senate, the temporary donation ban also affects Rick Scott of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, and several other members. In the house, the group encompasses more than half the Republican caucus, including two top leaders Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise.

“We have to create some level of cost,” Thomas Glocer, a board member at Morgan Stanley and Merck, told the Wall Street Journal. “Money is the key.”

The National Association of Manufacturers, long one of the more conservative corporate lobby groups, has been particularly tough. It called out Republicans who “cheered” Trump during his “disgusting” efforts to overthrow the elections, which it said “sparked violent anger”. The club added: “This is riot and should be treated as such.”

However, many large companies have not announced any changes. (And other companies, like Goldman Sachs and Google’s parent company, have announced a hiatus on all political donations – a move designed to prevent public criticism but also not anger politicians who support attempted election fraud.)

McDonald’s and tobacco company Altria, which are among the top 20 donors to McCarthy, the House’s Republican leader, have not announced a halt in donations to members of Congress. Bank of America (a major backer to Scott) didn’t either, despite saying it was “reviewing its decision-making”.

Well-connected law firm Squire Patton Boggs has also not announced a policy change. It donated to Paul Gosar, a member of the Arizona House of Representatives who contributed to the violent rally on Jan. 6, who tweeted “#FightForTrump” and “The Time Is Now”. Stay tuned.”

What’s the bottom line? I asked Andrew Ross Sorkin, the Times columnist who has covered corporate executives for two decades, and he said the announcements were “temporary defensive measures.” The real question was whether in six months’ time companies would again donate to the politicians who backed the overturning of a presidential election.

For more information, see Andrew’s recent column advocating a permanent end to corporate policy giving.

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