Who Is Financing Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ Caucus? Corporations You Know.
"Immediately after the Jan. 6 attack, hundreds of corporations announced freezes on donating money to Republican lawmakers who had voted against certifying Joe Biden’s victory. “Given recent events and the horrific attack on the U.S. Capitol, we are assessing our future PAC criteria,” a spokesperson for Toyota said a week after the attack.
For many corporations, that pause was short-lived.
“By April 1, 2021, Toyota had donated $62,000 to 39 Republican objectors,” the journalist Judd Legum wrote in his newsletter, Popular Information. That included a donation of $1,000 that Toyota gave to Representative Andy Biggs, a Republican from Arizona who is a close ally of Donald Trump and a fervent devotee of the “big lie.”
In July 2021, Toyota reversed course and announced another hiatus from donating to lawmakers who voted to overturn the election results. Six months later, the money started to flow again. The company, in a statement to The Times, said it donates equally to both parties and “will not support those who, by their words and actions, create an atmosphere that incites violence.” (Corporations aren’t allowed to give directly to campaigns but instead form political action committees that donate in the name of the company.)
Giving equally to both parties sounds good. But what if a growing faction of one political party isn’t committed to the rule of law and the peaceful transfer of power?
In the year and a half since the attack, rivers of cash from once skittish donors have resumed flowing to election deniers. Sometimes tens of thousands of dollars. Sometimes just a thousand. But it adds up. In the month of April alone, the last month for which data is available, Fortune 500 companies and trade organizations gave more than $1.4 million to members of Congress who voted not to certify the election results, according to an analysis by the transparency group Accountable.US. AT&T led the pack, giving $95,000 to election objectors.
Of all the revelations so far from the hearings on the Jan. 6 attack, the most important is that the effort to undermine democratic elections in the United States is continuing. More than a dozen men and women who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection or the rallies leading up to it have run for elected office this year. Supporters of Mr. Trump have also run for public offices that oversee elections. And according to an investigation by The Times, at least 357 Republican legislators in nine states have used the power of their offices to attack the results of the 2020 election.
This isn’t a hypothetical threat. On Tuesday, New Mexico’s secretary of state was forced to ask the State Supreme Court to compel a Republican-led county election commission to certify primary election results. The commission had refused to do so, citing its distrust of its own voting machines.
There is also an active effort underway to frustrate the Jan. 6 committee’s work, including refusing to comply with subpoenas. Mr. Biggs, for instance, has refusedto comply with a congressional subpoena to testify, as have other Republican members of Congress, including Jim Jordan, Kevin McCarthy, Mo Brooks and Scott Perry. (Mr. Perry, among other congressmen, asked for a presidential pardon for efforts to challenge and overturn the 2020 election, according to Representative Liz Cheney, the vice chair of the committee. He has denied that charge.) Representatives Barry Loudermilk and Ronny Jackson have yet to agreeto interview requests from the committee. Six of these congressmen alone have brought in more than $826,000 from corporate donors since Jan. 6, according to Accountable.US. (Mr. Brooks didn’t receive any money from the Fortune 500 companies and trade groups tracked in the report.)
We tend to think of the past and future threat to elections as coming from voters for Donald Trump and those whom they’d elect to office. But the success of these politicians also depends on money. And a lot of money from corporations like Boeing, Koch Industries, Home Depot, FedEx, UPS and General Dynamics has gone to politicians who reject the 2020 election results based on lies told by the former president, according to a tally kept by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, known as CREW.
All told, as of this week, corporations and industry groups gave almost $32 million to the House and Senate members who voted to overturn the election and to the G.O.P. committees focused on the party’s congressional campaigns. The top 10 companies that gave money to those members, according to CREW’s analysis of campaign finance disclosures, are Koch Industries, Boeing, Home Depot, Valero Energy, Lockheed Martin, UPS, Raytheon, Marathon Petroleum, General Motors and FedEx. All of those companies, with the exception of Koch Industries and FedEx, once said they’d refrain from donating to politicians who voted to reject the election results.
Of the 249 companies that promised not to fund the 147 senators and representatives who voted against any of the results, fewer than half have stuck to their promise, according to CREW.
Kudos aplenty to the 85 corporations that stuck to their guns and still refuse to fund the seditious, including Nike, PepsiCo, Lyft, Cisco, Prudential, Marriott, Target and Zillow. That’s what responsible corporate citizenship looks like. It’s also patriotic.
We’re going to need more patriotic companies for what’s coming. Not only are Republican lawmakers who refused to certify the election results still in office; their party is poised to make gains during the midterm elections. Their electoral fortunes represent not only an endorsement from voters who support their efforts to undermine our democracy; they also represent the explicit financial support of hundreds of corporations that pour money into their campaign coffers.
Money in politics is the way of the world, especially in this country. But as the Jan. 6 committee’s investigation has made clear, Mr. Trump’s attempted coup was orders of magnitude different from the normal rough-and-tumble of politics. Returning to the status quo where corporate money flowed to nearly every politician elected to office isn’t just unseemly; it is helping to fund a continuing attack on our democracy.
Many Americans say they’ve moved on from the attack on Jan. 6. For those who haven’t, a good place to focus their attention is on the continuing threat to the Republic posed by politicians who are actively undermining it, and the money that helps them do so.
Alex Kingsbury has been an editor with The Times and a member of its editorial board since 2018. Previously, he sat on the editorial board of The Boston Globe and was deputy editor of The Globe's Ideas section. @akingsburynyt"
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