At least a half-dozen American corporations have resumed giving campaign cash to Republicans who voted to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election, less than six months after they announced a pause on political giving in the wake of the January 6 attacks at the U.S. Capitol.
Fortune 500 giants Cigna, General Motors, Boeing, UPS, Aflac, and American Airlines all made public statements in January regarding the suspension of political donations from their respective political action committees (PACs). But all began donating again in recent months to lawmakers who – on January 6 – voted against the certification of last year’s election results.
Washington watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) also identified at least eight other companies – including Walmart, PNC Bank, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, and NBCUniversal’s parent company, Comcast – that donated to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) or the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) in recent months.
Neither the NRSC nor the NRCC responded to inquiries from NBCLX, but both raise hundreds of millions of dollars per cycle that help defend their Republican incumbents, including the 174 who challenged the 2020 election results.
According to CREW, the aforementioned companies gave a total of $131,000 directly to Republican candidates who opposed the certification of the election in the last few months, with another $490,000 going to the NRSC and NRCC. Federal filings indicate those companies, overall, have donated millions of dollars to Republican and Democratic campaigns thus far in 2021.
None of the major companies that announced a suspension of donations indicated they would permanently stop giving to politicians; Brendan Fischer, Director of Federal Reform at the Campaign Legal Center, tells NBCLX that a political contribution is one of the most effective ways corporations get their voices heard in Washington.
NBCLX previously reported how Major League Baseball resumed donating to federal candidates less than six months after its January suspension of political contributions, and less than three months after announcing it would relocate its All-Star Game in response to new election laws passed in Georgia. The league cut checks to three Democrats and three Republicans, none of whom objected to November’s election results.
Major League Baseball did not respond to requests for comment, but a Pfizer spokesperson told NBCLX the company will “continue monitoring and taking into account the conduct of candidates and elected officials” when considering donations, which “will continue to prioritize candidates and elected officials from both sides of the aisle who support policies that foster innovation and help expand patients’ access to medicines and vaccines.”
A GM spokesperson wrote, “the General Motors employee-funded PAC supports the election of U.S. federal and state candidates from both sides of the aisle who foster sound business policies, support American workers and understand the importance of a robust domestic auto industry as we pursue an all-electric vehicle future.”
A spokesperson for Walmart told NBCLX the company has donated – for ten straight years – to Republican and Democratic committees evenly, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign, the NRSC, and the NRCC.
American Airlines told NBCLX their employee-funded PAC has resumed giving to “lawmakers from both parties whose policy priorities include supporting U.S. aviation and our workforce, and helping our industry recover from the pandemic.”
Comcast did not provide any comment for this story, while representatives from Cigna, Boeing, UPS, Aflac, PNC Bank, General Electric, and Johnson & Johnson did not respond to requests for comment.
Noah Pransky is NBCLX’s National Political Editor. He covers Washington and state politics for NBCLX, and his investigative work has been honored with national Murrow, Polk, duPont, and Cronkite awards. You can contact him confidentially at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.