The Capitol riot prompted dozens of companies to end political donations

The January attack on the United States Capitol had a bigger impact than previously thought on corporate political donations, new campaign finance records show.

Why is this important: The immediate and intense political fallout from the insurgency has prompted dozens of companies to announce a halt or end to political donations. New figures suggest an even greater deterrent effect, with companies that have been publicly silent also forgoing donations.

  • Corporate PAC for some businesses that have not announced after January. 6 changes to their political donations – such as Sysco, Assurant, Citizens Financial and Pioneer Natural Resources – failed to give federal candidates a dime in the first two months of the year.
  • All four donated to at least one political candidate in the first two months of the 2020 election cycle.

Other companies that announced internal reviews seem to remain on the sidelines.

  • United Airlines, CVS and Chevron have announced that they will reassess these policies. None made a donation to a federal political candidate in January or February.

Companies that announced the changes to their political donation policies seem to hold true.

  • The corporate PAC for financial services company Charles Schwab completely dissolved this week, after the company announced it would be dropping its political donation program. PAC donated its remaining funds, nearly $ 150,000, to charity.
  • Companies that have said they will suspend all political donations – including McDonald’s, General Motors and BAE Systems – have said they have followed through.

Even the companies that swore donations only to members of Congress who opposed the certification of President Biden’s Electoral College victory appear to go even further.

  • Mastercard and Walgreens both reported no federal political contributions in January and February, a significant drop from their donations in the first two months of 2019.
  • Eli lilly donates $ 30,000 in February to the campaign arms of the House of Democrats and the Senate, but none to the equivalent Republican groups – a departure from bipartite donation during the equivalent periods past electoral cycles.

What they say : “I really think (the Jan. 6 attack) will have a long-term impact” on political donations, said Kristin Brackemyre, director of the political action and government relations committee at the Public Affairs Council.

  • “Organizations are much more aware of every contribution they make, they need to be really thought through and… need to assess whether this could be controversial, and to whom it would be,” Brackemyre said.

Yes, but: Not all American companies have been so reluctant to re-engage. The United States Chamber of Commerce recently announced that it would not exclude members of Congress simply because they voted against the certification of the election.

  • Corporate PACs that have sworn to donate have also not been the moderating force many had hoped for. In fact, they could have the opposite effect, encouraging marginal donors.
  • Firebrand Republicans such as Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) have also found that any loss in contributions they may have suffered was outweighed by an increase in grassroots support.

The bottom line: The January 6 attack not only turned many large corporations against some prominent GOP lawmakers; it showed how toxic American politics are right now.

  • This forces companies to balance the possibility of controversy with their immediate goals in Washington.
  • “Overall, I think American businesses want to engage politically,” Brackemyre said. “They just want to make sure they’re doing it responsibly and tactfully.”