PACs toughen criteria as they prepare to resume political donations

A number of corporate PACs are tightening their donation standards, including banning contributions to candidates who instigate violence as they resume their donations after the Jan.6 riots on Capitol Hill.

Investigations by two business groups suggest political action committees are reorganizing their donation policies, but are reluctant to impose long-term donation bans on 147 GOP lawmakers who opposed President Joe’s election Biden.

The National Association of Business Political Action Committees, or NABPAC, asked its members about their political donation plans during this cycle and found that 55% of respondents “plan to make changes to the candidates and committees they support this cycle ”.

Almost 70% of those polled said they halted their PAC operations at least temporarily after the January insurgency. They have used the time since to organize focus groups, hold PCB board meetings and one-on-one conversations with employees and shareholders.

But the pauses in contributions, including to those who contested the election, may not last much longer.

“The vast majority are in a place where they feel they can either move forward or make changes based on these conversations, depending on the decisions of the board,” said Micaela Isler, Executive Director of NABPAC . “We’ll start to see some kind of gradual increase in donations from this quarter. “

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

In the aftermath of the January 6 riots on Capitol Hill, some political action committees are considering changing their donation policies, including banning contributions to candidates who promote violence.

According to the NABPAC poll, the main considerations for resuming contributions were contributions from the lobbying team of the company or association and a vote in favor of the restart by the PAC board. About 100 of the 255 group members responded to the survey.

The most common changes for NABPAC referees were to add “values ​​/ integrity” criteria to the candidates they support, and about a quarter “decided on a list of candidates who would no longer receive support.”

The Public Affairs Council recently surveyed its members and found similar results. About half of the 55 PACs from companies and trade associations that responded said they had changed the criteria for contribution, while 13% responded that they still evaluate the guidelines for their political giving.

The most common criteria changes are “updating the criteria to include language specifying not to support candidates who promote or celebrate violence; adding standards of ethics and integrity; a shared commitment to the democratic process; promote civility, moderation and compromise, ”said Kristin Brackemyre, director of PAC and government relations for the Public Affairs Council. The survey was sent to 1,000 professionals in CPC, government relations and grassroots.

Give a drop

PAC donations to incumbents fell 40% in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period of the 2020 election cycle. Republicans suffered the brunt of the drop, with GOP lawmakers suffering a drop of about 50% from the first quarter of 2019. PAC donations to Democratic incumbents, meanwhile, fell 29%.

Some of the larger PACs, including those associated with Boeing Co., Marathon Petroleum Corp., UnitedHealth Group Inc., and Amgen Inc., made no political contributions in the first three months of the year, according to Federal Election Commission data analyzed by the Bloomberg government. These PACs made a total of $ 1.4 million in political contributions during the same period of the 2020 cycle.

Read more:PAC gives GOP plunges as businesses retreat after January 6 riots

In the Public Affairs Council’s poll, 53% said they were looking at donations to election opponents on a “case-by-case basis,” while 32% said they were temporarily suspending contributions to these members. Only 7% responded that they would not give to the 147 Republicans for the entire 2022 election cycle. More than a third had not determined a timeline for how long they would withhold donations to this group, and 13 % said they would resume after the second trimester.

Fluid process

Isler said political contributions – and the decisions that inform them – will be a “very smooth process.”

“The mere fact that an organization handed over a check in a previous election cycle never guaranteed that that same candidate would receive a check again,” Isler said. “It’s kind of like the dating analogy – you’re trying to develop a relationship, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. “

A company that initially suspended contributions, JetBlue Airways Corp., defended his decision to back down and contribute to a House member who opposed certification of the election saying he would take back donations to candidates relevant to his business.

Read more: JetBlue cites commercial links in donations to opponent in election

“Most PACs have a plan for moving forward and when they restart their operations, they focus on communicating it to their internal PAC members and eligible employees,” said Brackemyre. “It’s impossible to please everyone in this process, but ACANs are in a good position to gather feedback, answer internal questions or concerns, and communicate future plans. “

To contact the reporter on this story: Megan R. Wilson in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bennett roth at