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Big US companies slash donations to politicians after Trump election challenge

By Reuters | February 21st 2021 at 08:35:26 GMT +0300

Police release tear gas into a crowd of pro-Trump protesters during clashes at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.

Ten U.S. corporations slashed donations to candidates seeking federal office by more than 90% in January, after pledging to cut off giving to the Republicans who supported former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn his election defeat.

None of the political action committees of 10 major companies reviewed by Reuters, including Microsoft Corp, Walmart Inc, AT&T Inc and Comcast Corp, donated to any of the 147 congressional Republicans who voted to support Trump’s claims just hours after his supporters launched a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Disclosures to the Federal Election Commission ahead of a Saturday filing deadline showed the group of corporate PACs affiliated with those 10 companies made $13,000 in new donations to candidates in January. The reports were the first by the PACs to detail contributions made since the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

The money donated during the month was less than one-tenth the roughly $190,000 the 10 company PACs gave candidates in January 2017, and tiny relative to the roughly $10 million donated to candidates during the 2019-2020 election season. The 147 lawmakers who voted to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory had received more than $2 million from those 10 PACs during the last two-year political cycle.

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Only committees tied to two of the companies - General Electric Co and American Express Co - reported any new giving to federal candidates in January.

American Express’ PAC gave $5,000 to Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota, while GE’s gave $5,000 to Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, a prominent Republican Trump critic, and $1,000 to Representative Rick Larsen of Washington, a Democrat.

Political giving usually slows down in the months after a U.S. general election and money from corporate political action committees is a small slice of the funds raised by political campaigns.

But the paucity of corporate-affiliated giving in January points to a slower start in one corner of political finance ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Corporate PACs cannot donate money from the company treasury but generally serve as a conduit for contributions from managers and shareholders.

Committees affiliated with Best Buy, State Street Corp, Dow Inc and Nike Inc did not report new donations to any candidates in January.

While more than a thousand PACs are associated with corporate America, the 10 reviewed by Reuters include major companies which made clear public statements that they would throttle back donations following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.


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