WASHINGTON (AP) – Corporate America is quickly distancing itself from President Donald Trump and his Republican allies, with many of the biggest names in business – Goldman Sachs, Coca-Cola, Ford and Comcast – cutting off political donations after a mob inspired by Trump held the US Capitol in deadly and brutal reflection last Wednesday.
For now, the move is to establish the rule of law and the clear results of the election that will make Democrat Joe Biden president. But it also signals that companies are becoming uneasy about lawmakers who have backed Trump̵
“It’s spreading like wildfire,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale University School of Management who consults with CEOs. “The American business community has interests that are fully in line with the American public, not the autocratic fanatic wing of the TOP of the TOP.”
Still, the donation pause announced by many companies – including Marriott, American Express, AT&T, JPMorgan Chase, Dow, American Airlines and others – is unlikely to deal a serious blow to Republicans in Congress who voted to undo Biden’s victory.
“These are symbolic promises,” said Sheila Krumholtz, executive director of the Responsive Politics Center, a non-partisan group that tracks the role money plays in politics. “It’s just a source of revenue, and for some it’s disappearing, especially in the Senate.”
Corporate sponsored policy committees are limited to donating $ 5,000 per candidate each year. In competitions that often cost holders millions of dollars, such contributions represent only a small part of the overall fundraising picture.
Take Senator Josh Hawley. The Missouri Republican has sparked widespread contempt, including from longtime supporters and the Senate Republican leadership, for becoming the first senator to say he would oppose bidding for Biden’s victory.
Since 2017, when he announced his candidacy in the Senate, only about $ 754,000 of the $ 11.8 million he raised comes from corporate PACs and trade groups. This represents about 15% of its total fundraising, according to an analysis of campaign finance disclosures.
Moreover, Hawley was not the biggest spend in his race. Outside conservative groups, including those affiliated with the Republican leadership, were those who lost the lion’s share of the money that helped oust former Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. Such groups are largely isolated from the corporate donation break.
Still, greeting card maker Hallmark has taken a step forward from most companies. The Kansas City-based company has asked both Hawley and recently elected Kansas senator Roger Marshall to return their contributions because of their votes against Biden’s victory.
“Hallmark believes that the peaceful transition of power is part of the foundation of our democratic system, and we abhor violence of all kinds,” said Hallmark spokesman Jiao Jiao Shen.
PAC has donated $ 7,000 to the company to Marshall, FEC records show. The company also said it donated $ 5,000 to Hawley.
In many cases, however, most companies suspend their donations for only a few months, leaving enough time to increase donations before the 2022 election.
“They’re hiding until the news cycle continues,” said Eric Gordon, a law and business professor at the University of Michigan. “They will return with their checkbooks, and politicians who are already preparing for Congress in 2022 are waiting at the back door.”
Even if Trump sells himself to voters as a billionaire guru with a Midas-like grip on the economy, many business leaders have quietly backed away from a president who repressed trade, inflamed racism, curtailed immigration and failed to contain a deadly pandemic.
But the rejection accelerated as he drew a crowd to a rally in Washington and urged them to march on the Capitol on Wednesday.
Since then, technology companies have denied the use of services for Trump’s political operation. The payment company Stripe has stopped processing donations to Trump’s election committees, according to a person familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity because the decision was not made public.
This move could cut off Trump’s fundraising hand from the steady stream of donations for small dollars that are often requested through emails and text messages. Stripe’s decision was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Shopify, an e-commerce platform for merchants selling goods, prisons and Trump’s campaign goods website, as other technology companies, including Twitter, Facebook and Amazon, impose new restrictions on Trump’s movement because of the violence.
Leading business groups such as the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable and the US Chamber of Commerce have condemned the uprising. Yet these same groups are also working to support Trump’s tax breaks in 2017 and will face a Biden administration that wants to increase corporate taxes, a sign that they may not be fully aligned with one political party.
What surprised some ethics observers was how quickly companies responded by stopping their donations.
“It seems to be sincere for many corporations,” said Craig Holman, a campaign finance expert at Public Citizen, a liberal consumer organization. “There was not much public pressure or pressure to get Marriott and others to announce that they would no longer contribute to the campaign. They did it themselves – they shocked everyone in the campaign funding community. “
The answer is not the same from corporations. Dow, the chemical company, said it would suspend contributions for the next two years to any member of Congress who objected to electoral college certification. Airbnb said it would also maintain support for these lawmakers.
Some companies are trying to avoid the policy altogether after last week’s riots. Citigroup confirmed on Sunday that it was suspending all federal political donations for the first three months of the year, including those for Democratic lawmakers.
“We want you to be sure that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law,” said Candi Wolff, Citi’s head of global government affairs. She added that once the presidential transition is over, the country can “hopefully” emerge “stronger and more united from these events.”
The decision by Citigroup and others to pause all political contributions outraged some Democrats, who said they had been punished for Republican violence and that five people were dead.
“It’s not time to say that both sides have done it,” New York spokesman Sean Maloney told MSNBC. “What the hell did the Democrats do this week other than stand up for the Constitution and the rule of law?”
This story has been adjusted to show that the next congressional election is in 2022, not 2020. AP business reporter Ken Sweet contributed to this report from Charlotte, North Carolina.