By Stephen NeukamThe TexasTribune
“After suspending political donations after insurgency, AT&T and Valero fund midterm denierswas first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that educates — and engages with — Texans about public policy, politics, government and issues in the world. statewide.
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WASHINGTON — After the deadly January 6, 2021 insurgency, a number of corporate political action committees, including Dallas-based AT&T, said they would suspend support for candidates who voted to oppose certification of the 2020 election.
But this election cycle, these companies and several other companies have lavished funds on Texas Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 election, as well as a handful of new candidates who continue to question the legitimacy of the presidency. by Joe Biden. On the day of the uprising, 17 Texans in Congress voted against certification of the election results, including the senator. Ted Cruz, who is not eligible for re-election this year, and 16 members of the Chamber. (Among House members, Rep. Louie Gohmertof Tyler, is not seeking re-election, and Rep. Ron Wrightof Arlington, died in February 2021.) Many of these candidates continue to cast doubt on the election results, which have been confirmed by multiple audits, court rulings, and even members of the administration of the former President Donald Trump.
This year in Texas, AT&T-affiliated PACs donated at least $28,500 to lawmakers who opposed certification of the 2020 election. The lawmakers who received the funds are Republican Representatives. Jodey Arrington of Lubbock, John Carter of the Round Rock, Roger Williams from Austin, Michael Cloud of Victoria, Pete Sessions from Waco, Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Ronny Jackson of Amarillo and Lance Gooden by Terrell.
AT&T said in a statement to the Texas Tribune that its employee PACs donated to bipartisan candidates focusing “on policies and regulations important to investing in broadband networks.”
“A contribution to an elected official does not mean that our PAC employees support or agree with every position taken by the elected official,” an AT&T spokesperson said.
Asked about their previous stance to withhold funding from candidates who opposed the election results, the spokesperson said, “Our PAC staffer has suspended campaign contributions from these lawmakers for over a year.”
Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of Common Cause Texas, an Austin-based nonprofit pro-democracy group, said he understands companies need to make political donations to further their business interests. But while many companies have donated to candidates from both parties, Gutierrez warned of the dangers of supporting Holocaust deniers.
“I wish they realized that if we don’t have a functioning democracy, their interests won’t matter as much,” Gutierrez said. “It will be really difficult for you to be successful and have successful businesses if our democracy is falling apart because the people in power are Holocaust deniers.”
Valero Energy said after the uprising that it would end its political contributions and had “no intention of resuming them in the coming months.” This election cycle, Valero has donated at least $37,500 to nine lawmakers who voted to oppose the counting of certain voters. Valero did not respond to a request for comment.
The National Association of Realtors also suspended political contributions in January 2021 but decided to resume giving a few months later. The organization has donated at least $58,000 over the past three months to 14 lawmakers who voted against certification of the 2020 election.
The National Association of Realtors told the Tribune that its success as an organization was driven by its support of issues and “not just one political party.”
“When power shifts, as it always will, we have champions on both sides of the aisle,” an organization official said.
A number of other companies also helped fund US House candidates in Texas who denied the 2020 election results. FiveThirtyEight identified 21 Republican congressional candidates as the most egregious perpetrators of election denialism. Those Republican candidates include 14 U.S. House incumbents who voted against certification of the election results and seven congressional candidates who publicly questioned the election results. They collectively raised a total of $9.4 million between June and October, according to federal campaign finance data.
Other companies that endorsed these nominees include Toyota-affiliated PACs that paid a total of at least $20,000 to eight of the nominees. ExxonMobil’s PAC also paid out a total of at least $13,500 to five contestants.
An ExxonMobil spokesperson said the company’s PAC was “non-partisan” and pointed out that the company congratulated President Joe Biden on his election in November 2020.
And 13 of the nominees also received nearly $80,000 from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the nation’s largest pro-Israel lobby group.
The 21 candidates identified by FiveThirtyEight for their votes against certifying the election include Republican representatives. Troy Nehls of Richmond, August Pfluger of Saint-Ange, Michael Burgess of Lewisville, pat fallon by Sherman, Randy Weber of Friendswood, Brian Babin of Woodville, Sessions, Carter, Van Duyne, Arrington, Gooden, Cloud, Williams and Jackson. representing Mayra Flores of Los Indios, another Republican incumbent, was also on the list. She won in a special election but was not yet in office on January 6, 2021. It also includes Republican challengers like Monica De La Cruz, Carmen Montiel, Irene Armendariz-Jackson, Jenny Garcia Sharon, Keith Self and Morgan Luttrell, who cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 election in public statements and appearances.
Luttrell, a former Navy SEAL, said during a debate in February that he would not have voted to certify the results of the 2020 elections in Pennsylvania and Arizona. De La Cruz, a Trump-backed candidate, suggested in 2020 when she lost her race, without evidence, that she and the former president were both victims of electoral fraud.
Most of the contestants did not respond to requests for comment on this story.
But De La Cruz dismissed the idea that she was an election denier, telling the Tribune that Biden had been “duly elected President of the United States.”
“I trust our constitutional process, the voters in my community, and I am confident that we will be victorious in November.”
Montiel, who is running in Texas’ 18th congressional district and is not favored to win, doubled down on his decision to deny the 2020 election results in an interview with The Texas Tribune, cling to a debunked theory that more people voted in 2020 than registered.
Disclosure: AT&T, Common Cause, Exxon Mobil Corporation, and Valero financially supported The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations, and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the journalism of the Tribune. Find a suit list here.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Grandstand at https://www.texatribune.org/2022/10/26/att-valero-pacs-midterms/.
The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, member-supported newsroom that informs and engages Texans about politics and state politics. Learn more at texastribune.org.