AT&T and Cigna are funding Republican groups led by election objectors they had promised to stop supporting

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (center) and Josh Hawley (top) led the GOP effort to challenge Electoral College votes on January 6, which was interrupted as Trump supporters attempted to violently overturn Biden's victory.
  • 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“).

Read more: Democrats are plotting the death – and rebirth – of a hamstrung Federal Election Commission now that they’ll control the White House and both chambers of Congress

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.

Still, dozens issued public statements or internal memos announcing they would pause contributions while reevaluating how they use their money to influence politics.

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.

Do you work for one of these companies and have information about how they’re responding to recent events? We’d love to hear how they’re navigating the current political landscape. Contact this reporter using a non-work device via encrypted messaging app Signal ( +1 503-319-3213 ), email (tsonnemaker@insider.com), or Twitter (@TylerSonnemaker ). We can keep sources anonymous. PR pitches by email only, please.

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AT&T, Cigna abandon promises to stop financing Republicans who voted to overturn the election

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (center) and Josh Hawley (top) led the GOP effort to challenge Electoral College votes on January 6, which was interrupted as Trump supporters attempted to violently overturn Biden's victory.
  • AT&T and Cigna have resumed funding GOP election objectors, Popular Information reported Friday.
  • Some companies paused 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, contradicting the companies’ earlier promises, 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 have apparently determined that some of those lawmakers are once again deserving of support.

AT&T and Cigna did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

AT&T’s Political Action Committee (PAC), just 35 days after pausing contibutions to the 147 election objectors, gave $5,000 to the Republican Study Committee in February, according to Legum. Rep. Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana who voted against certifying Electoral College results, sits on the RSC’s executive committee.

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.

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“).

Read more: Democrats are plotting the death – and rebirth – of a hamstrung Federal Election Commission now that they’ll control the White House and both chambers of Congress

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.

Still, dozens issued public statements or internal memos announcing they would pause contributions while reevaluating how they use their money to influence politics.

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.

Do you work for one of these companies and have information about how they’re responding to recent events? We’d love to hear how they’re navigating the current political landscape. Contact this reporter using a non-work device via encrypted messaging app Signal ( +1 503-319-3213 ), email (tsonnemaker@insider.com), or Twitter (@TylerSonnemaker ). We can keep sources anonymous. PR pitches by email only, please.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Corporate America is pausing its financial support for the 147 GOP lawmakers who challenged Biden’s victory. Here are all the S&P 500 companies who gave them money – and then stopped.

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (center) and Josh Hawley (top) led the GOP effort to challenge Electoral College votes on January 6, which was interrupted as Trump supporters attempted to violently overturn Biden's victory.
  • S&P 500 companies gave $23 million to the 147 GOP lawmakers who contested Electoral College results.
  • After GOP efforts to overturn Biden’s victory led to violence, some companies paused their support.
  • Here’s a list of how much each corporate PAC had given and whether they’ve paused contributions.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On January 6, Congress convened a joint session to formally certify President Joseph Biden’s Electoral College victory, but it was quickly interrupted by a group of Republican objectors who argued, based on little more than conspiracy theories, that Congress shouldn’t proceed because there had been widespread election fraud.

In total, 147 Republicans – roughly 55% of the GOP lawmakers in Congress – objected to certifying the results of at least one state’s Electoral College vote.

But that long-shot effort to overturn democratic election results was itself interrupted by pro-Trump rioters who – citing the same election fraud conspiracies – stormed the US Capitol building in an attempt to violently keep Trump in power, forcing members of Congress to evacuate, leaving five dead and dozens injured.

In the wake of the failed insurrection, corporate America found itself facing backlash for its extensive financial support of Trump and the lawmakers whose repeated amplification of election fraud conspiracies helped fuel the violence.

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“).

Read more: Democrats are plotting the death – and rebirth – of a hamstrung Federal Election Commission now that they’ll control the White House and both chambers of Congress

But following reporting from Popular Information and other media outlets, many companies began rethinking their political contributions.

Companies’ commitments have 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. Others have 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.

Still, dozens have issued public statements or internal memos announcing they will at least pause contributions while they reevaluate how they use their money to influence politics.

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 their support.

Do you work for one of these companies and have information about how they’re responding to recent events? We’d love to hear how they’re navigating the current political landscape. Contact this reporter using a non-work device via encrypted messaging app Signal ( +1 503-319-3213 ), email (tsonnemaker@insider.com), or Twitter (@TylerSonnemaker ). We can keep sources anonymous. PR pitches by email only, please. 

 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Video shows pro-Trump mob charging at news crews and destroying equipment outside US Capitol building

capitol seige GettyImages 1230455307 TOPSHOT - Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP) (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)
Law enforcement in Washington, DC, deployed tear gas against rioters who eventually stormed the US Capitol building.

  • A mob of Pro-Trump protesters charged and yelled threats at at news media crews outside the US capitol building on Wednesday, forcing them to flee the area.
  • The protesters also swung a flagpole at the crews and and destroyed their camera equipment.
  • Some of the protesters who had gathered in Washington, DC, to protest the presidential election results violently stormed the Capitol building earlier on Wednesday, forcing lawmakers to evacuate.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As protesters in Washington, DC, on Wednesday became violent, a mob of pro-Trump protesters charged at news media crews reporting on the events outside the US Capitol building, according to multiple videos posted to Twitter.

The videos depicted protesters toppling metal fences that the journalists had been positioned behind, with one swinging a flag pole at a camera crew, yelling comments like “f— the mainstream media,” “get out of here,” and calling the media “traitors.”

As protesters converged, the media crews could be seen fleeing the area.

A handful of protesters then proceeded to destroy the camera equipment that had been left behind, as the crowd cheered and several people urged them to take “souvenirs.”

 

Trump has consistently criticized the news media, often referring to journalists as “the enemy of the people,” a term popularized by Joseph Stalin to describe those who opposed views pushed by his government, and has at times glorified violence against members of the press.

Thousands of Trump supporters had gathered in Washington earlier on Wednesday to attend a “March for Trump” rally to protest the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race. Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress were in the process of mounting a challenge to Congress’ efforts to formally certify the Electoral College votes. 

Following the president’s speech, a large mob then stormed the US Capitol building, forcing the House and Senate to abruptly go into recess and lawmakers, Hill staffers, and reporters to shelter in their offices before being evacuated.

An armed standoff between rioters and police ensued, with multiple law enforcement officers injured and a woman being fatally shot.

In response to the violence, Washington, DC, mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a 6 p.m. curfew in the District of Columbia. The D.C. National Guard and Virginia National Guard have been deployed to the scene.

Read the original article on Business Insider

McConnell ties $2,000 stimulus checks to Trump-proposed poison pills on Section 230 and election fraud, likely sinking push for additional COVID-19 relief

mitch mcconnell donald trump scotus
Senate Maj. Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump

  • Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell introduced a bill Tuesday linking $2,000 stimulus checks to a repeal of Section 230 and a new commission to study election fraud, a move likely to doom the increased checks.
  • McConnell’s proposal came just hours after he blocked a House-passed bill that would have also boosted Americans’ stimulus payments, but without tackling the other items — both of which are top Trump priorities.
  • Trump and some Republicans have repeatedly railed against Section 230 — which shields internet companies from being sued over user-posted content — and made baseless accusations about election fraud, while Democrats have opposed them on both issues.
  • McConnell’s decision to tie increased stimulus checks to a Section 230 repeal and election fraud commission may sink the effort by pressuring Democrats to vote against the bill or help Trump notch three wins.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday introduced a bill tying $2,000 stimulus checks to unrelated items on President Donald Trump’s agenda: a full repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and the creation of a new Congressional committee to further investigate the integrity of the 2020 US elections.

By linking the increased payments to measures that Democrats oppose, so-called poison pills, McConnell’s bill will likely sink efforts to get Americans additional COVID-19 relief.

McConnell’s move comes just hours after he blocked a separate attempt by Democrats to hold a vote on $2,000 checks that didn’t include language on the other two issues.

“Senator McConnell knows how to make $2,000 survival checks reality and he knows how to kill them,” Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a press release.

“If Sen. McConnell tries loading up the bipartisan House-passed CASH Act with unrelated, partisan provisions that will do absolutely nothing to help struggling families across the country, it will not pass the House and cannot become law – any move like this by Sen. McConnell would be a blatant attempt to deprive Americans of a $2,000 survival check,” Schumer added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had called for an immediate vote in the upper chamber on legislation known as the CASH Act, which was passed by the House on Monday night with the support of 44 Republicans and all but two Democrats.

McConnell has repeatedly opposed additional direct COVID-19 relief payments to Americans, previously calling them “crazy policy.” But he has also faced pressure recently from Democrats, Trump, and even some Republicans – ahead of pivotal runoff elections in Georgia for control of the Senate – to raise the amount to $2,000 from the $600 that Congress and Trump signed off on earlier this week.

Read more: $600 checks for most people, help for entertainment venues, airlines and public transit. Here’s what else is in the $900 billion stimulus Trump just signed.

Trump had threatened to veto the stimulus bill, because the checks were not for $2,000, but he eventually singed the $900 billion relief package.

On Tuesday, following McConnell’s decision to block the House proposal that would have done exactly that, Trump lashed out again, while also pushing Republicans to link the increased payments to his crusades against the tech industry and the presidential election results. 

“Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP. $600 IS NOT ENOUGH! Also, get rid of Section 230 – Don’t let Big Tech steal our Country, and don’t let the Democrats steal the Presidential Election. Get tough!” Trump tweeted.

By linking the $2,000 checks to Trump’s other demands – both of which Democrats have opposed – McConnell’s bill will likely pressure Democrats into voting down the measure, which in turn could give Republicans political cover to say they weren’t responsible for tanking the increased payments to Americans.

Trump has repeatedly railed against Section 230, a legal provision that shields internet companies from lawsuits over content posted on their sites by users and gives them the ability to regulate that content. Trump and some Republicans have mistakenly interpreted the law as requiring social media companies to be politically neutral, and have long complained – despite evidence to the contrary – that social media is biased against conservative viewpoints.

Trump has also repeatedly advanced baseless claims alleging widespread voter fraud in the 2020 US elections – and his lawyers have won zero out of least 40 lawsuits making such claims. (President-elect Joe Biden earned 306 Electoral College votes earlier this month, more than the 270 needed to win the presidential election, and won the popular vote by more than 7 million votes).

Read the original article on Business Insider