Amazon, Citigroup among companies suspending US political donations after Capitol siege

Republicans in the U.S. Congress faced a growing backlash on Monday from companies who said they would cut campaign contributions to those who voted last week to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

The announcements by Dow Inc., American Express and Amazon, among others, threaten to limit fundraising resources for Republicans who will soon be stripped of power in the White House and both houses of Congress.

“Given the unacceptable attempt to undermine a legitimate democratic process, Amazon’s PAC [political action committee] suspended contributions to any member of Congress who voted to overturn the results of the US presidential election, ”said Jodi Seth, spokesperson for Amazon.

Hallmark Cards Inc. and MasterCard have both confirmed they are halting donations after earlier reports from Popular Information, a political newsletter.

Kansas City, Missouri-based greeting card giant Hallmark and a large employer, said in a statement that its Political Action Committee asked Missouri Senator Josh Hawley and Kansas Senator Roger Marshall, who are are both opposed to Biden’s certification, to return all campaign contributions.

Trump supporters breached security and violently entered the United States Capitol on January 6 as Congress debated the certification of the 2020 electoral vote. (Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images)

He said the actions of the two senators “do not reflect the values ​​of our company.” He also condemned the storming of the Capitol by protesters determined to disrupt certification. “The peaceful transition of power is part of the foundation of our democratic system, and we abhor violence in all its forms.”

Representatives for Hawley and Marshall did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

U.S. wireless operator Verizon, meanwhile, will withhold donations from its political action committee to lawmakers who failed to support certification of Biden’s victory last week, a spokesperson told Reuters. AT&T announced a similar move earlier on Monday.

“They are abandoning the ship”

Other companies, including Ford Motor Co., Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, and Facebook Inc., have said they will temporarily halt donations to both parties.

This represents a sea change for companies who typically spread their money widely around Capitol Hill to ensure access. Last week’s assault on the United States Capitol has prompted some to re-evaluate this approach.

“It’s a sign [President Donald Trump’s] the power is gone and they are abandoning ship as quickly as possible, ”said Professor Duane Bratt, who teaches political science at Mount Royal University in Calgary.

He said American businesses had already pampered Trump with tax cuts and conservative judicial appointments, but just like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, they can now afford to walk away from the president. due to the imminent handover of power.

Also, the Capitol seat has overtaken all of the president’s past controversies, Bratt said.

“Same [Richard] Nixon was not abandoned like that, “he said.” Of course Nixon resigned instead of trying to overthrow Congress. “

At least five people died last Wednesday when Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to prevent lawmakers from certifying Biden’s victory. Lawmakers were forced to hide from the crowds for several hours.

When they reconvened, 139 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to challenge Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania or Arizona, although the two states have already officially certified the results and election officials have said that there had been no major problems with the vote.

On Wednesday, rioters try to cross a police barrier. (John Minchillo / The Associated Press)

Seven Republicans in the Senate also voted to challenge Arizona’s results.

Those who voted yes included the two main Republicans in the House, Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, and Senator Rick Scott, who, as the new leader of the National Republican Senate Committee, will lead efforts to reclaim the Senate in the election of 2022. All of their jobs require significant fundraising. None immediately responded to a request for comment.

Cut for how long?

The sheer extent of Republican opposition will make it difficult for companies to simply cut off those who voted against certification of Biden’s victory, a senior Republican business strategy official said, speaking under the guise of anonymity. About two-thirds of all Republicans in the House, including seasoned lawmakers and vocal Trump supporters, backed the challenge.

Business groups will be watching closely over the next few weeks to see if those Republicans make moves to restore a sense of normalcy, such as attending Biden’s nomination, the strategist said.

“Each of these people is going to be scrutinized,” the strategist said. “Do they all fit in the ‘no contribution’ bucket? I’d be shocked if they all put in.”

Fundraising is currently in a post-election lull in Washington, giving businesses and trade groups some time to understand their approach.

Those who breached security face Capitol Hill police officers outside the Senate Chamber on Wednesday. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / The Associated Press)

Business groups, in particular, are likely to need some time to take their members’ temperatures.

The National Beer Wholesalers Association said last week’s actions “demand that we all pause and think about this support.”

The business group gave a total of US $ 768,500 in the last election cycle to Republicans who voted to challenge Biden’s victory, according to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a monitoring group.

Other prominent donors, including the National Association of Homebuilders and the National Association of Realtors, have yet to make a decision, spokespersons said.

An analyst said the boycott may not be permanent, as companies will want to ensure their phone calls are referred by lawmakers on both sides.

“Memory is short and company assets last a long time,” said Kevin Book, managing director of ClearView Energy Partners. “I’m not sure we can conclude anything definitively based on statements and models this week.”