Corporate PAC donations to GOP objectors surpass $9 million since Jan. 6

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Corporate PACs affiliated with Fortune 500 companies and their trade associations have donated more than $9 million to Republicans who objected to the 2020 election results following the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to a new report from Accountable.US.

Nearly every major corporation froze PAC giving after President Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to overturn the election, with many firms pledging to give financial support only to candidates who support democratic values. Most companies have since resumed their donations to the 147 Republicans who voted against certification.

Donations to GOP objectors totaled just $539,000 in the first quarter of 2021, followed by roughly $2.8 million in the second and third quarters and $2.9 million in the final three months of the year, according to Accountable.US.

"Even after the violent coup attempt, 147 Republicans in Congress disgracefully continued to fan the flames of the 'Big Lie' by voting to cancel the will of the American people, and yet they still reaped millions from industry," Kyle Herrig, president of the liberal watchdog group, said in a statement.

"Corporations that couldn't even go a year without compromising their own stated values on democracy clearly value having political influence over lawmakers even more - no matter what dangerous and undemocratic views they hold."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who voted against certifying the 2020 election results and has refused to cooperate with the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, is the top recipient of corporate PAC money among the 147 Republicans, raking in $352,000 for his reelection campaign.

Walgreens, Comcast and Eli Lilly and Co. are some of the largest corporations that suspended donations to GOP objectors and made pro-democracy statements following the insurrection but recently resumed giving to the 147 Republicans. Each of those companies made $5,000 PAC donations to McCarthy's campaign last quarter.

"It is difficult to see how your company's stated values in support of democracy square with your PAC's decision to reward the campaign of the most prominent election rejectors and proponents of the Big Lie in Congress - someone who is now actively obstructing a congressional investigation into the failed coup attempt," Herrig wrote in a series of letters to the companies' chief executives Thursday.

Wells Fargo, American Airlines, Duke Energy and Ford Motor Co. also made donations to McCarthy in the final three months of 2021, though those firms never committed to writing off GOP objectors.

Just 13 percent of corporate PACs continue to pause donations to GOP objectors based on their Jan. 6 vote alone, according to a recent survey from the Public Affairs Council. They're instead taking into account each lawmaker's actions and public statements on the issue.

Corporations are worried about hurting their reputation among consumers and their own employees by donating to GOP objectors. But they're also wary of a GOP takeover in the 2022 midterms that would likely elevate McCarthy to Speaker, and PAC donations are one way that companies maintain a strong relationship with congressional leaders.