- AT&T and Cigna gave money to groups run by the GOP election objectors they pledged to stop supporting, Popular Information reported.
- Some companies paused certain PAC contributions after GOP efforts to overturn Biden’s victory led to violence.
- Here’s how much each S&P 500 corporate PAC had given – and if they’ve paused or resumed contributions.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
AT&T and Cigna both gave money last month to groups overseen by Republican lawmakers who sought to overturn the US presidential election results in January, despite earlier promises to pause support for those lawmakers, Popular Information’s Jedd Legum reported Friday.
After violent pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, interrupting the GOP’s last-ditch effort to invalidate states’ Electoral College results, companies faced intense public criticism over their financial support of the 147 Republican members of Congress who backed the effort.
Amid the backlash, dozens of major corporations said they would pause contributions and reevaluate how they determine which lawmakers to support.
Yet barely a month later, AT&T and Cigna gave contributions to Republican groups led by – and benefitting – those same lawmakers.
AT&T’s Political Action Committee (PAC), just 35 days after pausing contributions to the 147 election objectors, gave $5,000 to the House Conservative Fund in February, according to Legum. Rep. Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana who voted against certifying Electoral College results, sits on the fund’s executive committee – while other objectors are among its membership.
“Our employee PACs continue to adhere to their policy adopted on January 11 of suspending contributions to campaign committees of members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of Electoral College votes. Our employee PACs did not adopt a policy to halt contributions to Democratic and Republican multi-candidate PACs, however,” an AT&T spokesperson told Insider in a statement.
They added that while the contribution “was not intended to circumvent the current suspension policy regarding individual campaigns,” the PAC “is requesting that none of its contribution to the House Conservative Fund or to any other multi-candidate PAC go to any member of congress who objected to the Electoral College votes.”
“Going forward, our employee PACs will begin reviewing all multi-candidate PAC contributions for consistency with the policy on individual campaign contributions,” the spokesperson said.
Insider could not immediately confirm whether AT&T’s PAC was aware of Rep. Johnson’s connection to the House Conservative Fund when it made the contribution or when the PAC requested that the funds not benefit him or other objectors.
Cigna, which had said it would “discontinue support of any elected official who encouraged or supported violence, or otherwise hindered a peaceful transition of power,” continued that support just 22 days later by giving $15,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Legum reported. The NRSC is chaired by GOP Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, another election objector.
Cigna did not respond to requests for comment on this story.
Political Action Committees backed by S&P 500 companies gave more than $23 million to the 147 GOP election objectors during the most recent campaign cycles (2020 for House members; 2016 and 2018 for senators), according to an Insider analysis of Federal Election Commission data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Critics, from activists to shareholders to other executives, have argued the contributions helped those lawmakers get elected and stay in power, giving them the platform they used to undermine voters’ faith in the election (which Trump’s former top cybersecurity official called “the most secure in American history“).
Following reporting from Popular Information and other media outlets, many companies began rethinking their political contributions.
Companies’ commitments varied widely, however.
Few have permanently blacklisted election objectors, and as Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pointed out, the largest contributions typically happen right before, not after elections, leaving the door open for companies to resume their support once the public’s attention has turned elsewhere – an argument bolstered by AT&T and Cigna’s recent contributions.
Other companies paused all PAC contributions, potentially allowing them to benefit from the positive PR without having to explicitly condemn – or risk alienating – more than half of the Republicans in Congress.
Here’s a list of the S&P 500 companies – some of the largest and most influential businesses in the US – how much they gave to the 147 election objectors in the latest election cycles through their corporate PACs, and whether they’ve pulled (or resumed) their support.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that AT&T’s employee PAC had violated its policy, announced January 11, that it would “suspend contributions to members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of Electoral College votes,” by giving to a multi-candidate fund that includes such members. AT&T’s PAC did not adopt a policy to suspend contributions to multi-candidate groups, a spokesperson said.
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