Police union PACs have spent $510,000 targeting The Squad, but may not be aiming to unseat them as much as raise funds for themselves, report says

the squad
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks as Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) listen during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 15, 2019 in Washington, DC.

  • Police union PACs have spent $510,000 on text messages attacking The Squad, Axios reported Sunday.
  • The Squad, four US representatives that are women of color, are deeply unpopular with Republicans.
  • The attacks seem aimed at fundraising off of their unpopularity rather than unseating them.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Two political action committees affiliated with a national police union have spent $510,000 on text messages that attack The Squad, Axios reported Sunday.

The groups are affiliated with the International Union of Police Associations, which is based in Sarasota, Florida, and represents 20,000 people in law enforcement.

The PACs, Law Enforcement for a Safer America PAC and Honoring American Law Enforcement PAC, have spent $127,500 on each member of The Squad, records reviewed by Axios showed. In total, the outlet said it marks the “largest independent political expenditure of the 2022 cycle to date.”

The specific content of the text messages was not clear.

Read more: 32 years old and making $31,000: Capitol Hill staffers vent about unlivable pay and how they survive in one of the nation’s most expensive cities

“The Squad” refers to a group of four US representatives that are women of color: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Known as some of the most progressive members of Congress, they have drawn the ire of conservatives, including former president Donald Trump.

None of the members are especially at risk of losing their seats, prompting Axios to report that the police union’s attacks seem less aimed at unseating them than at raising funds for the PACs themselves by capitalizing on The Squad’s unpopularity with Republicans.

Debates over policing are also high on Republicans’ minds after the racial justice protests of last year and calls for police reform. Squad members split on a recent vote in Congress to expand funding for Capitol police in the wake of the insurrection. Omar and Pressley voted against the measure, while Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib voted present, ultimately allowing the bill to pass by one vote.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 10 GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump have already received $6.4 million in donations this year – far more than their 2022 midterm opponents

trump wind
Former President Donald Trump.

  • Donors are giving millions to the GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump.
  • Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, for example, received $1.54 million in the first three months of 2021.
  • They have received far more money than their prospective 2022 midterm opponents, who Trump has backed.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump have received more than $6 million in political donations between them since January – far more than their prospective opponents in the 2022 midterms.

Donations to the 10 lawmakers in the first three months of 2021 totaled $6.4 million, per new filings from the Federal Election Commission (FEC), first reported by Bloomberg. The money has come from GOP donors, conservative PACs, and even some Democrat donors, such as entrepreneur Kimbal Musk, Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s brother.

Three of the lawmakers – Kinzinger, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, and Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio – had their biggest-ever quarters for political contributions, Bloomberg reported.

The GOP lawmakers have been ostracized by some members of the party since they voted to impeach Trump for inciting the January 6 Capitol riots, and Trump has urged other candidates to run against them in the 2022 midterms. Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger was even accused of treason by members of his own GOP-supporting family.

So far, 15 challengers have announced primary bids against the incumbents in the 2022 midterms, though one incumbent, Rep. John Katko, is currently unopposed. The challengers have collectively raised $1.9 million this year, Bloomberg reported.

Here’s how much the GOP lawmakers raised between January 1 and March 31, per the FEC:

  1. Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyoming): $1.54 million
  2. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Illinois): $1.15 million
  3. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (Washington): $744,750
  4. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio): $616,524
  5. Rep. Peter Meijer (Michigan): $519,741
  6. Rep. John Katko (New York): $436,291
  7. Rep. Tom Rice (South Carolina): $404,731
  8. Rep. Fred Upton (Michigan): $360,392
  9. Rep. David Valadao (California): $322,144
  10. Rep. Dan Newhouse (Washington): $289,493

Cheney topped the list with $1.54 million in funding between January 1 and March 31, the FEC filings show. This includes $10,000 from Mitt Romney’s Believe in America PAC, and $5,600 from her father, former Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Liz Cheney
Rep. Liz Cheney has been an outspoken critic of Trump.

Cheney has said she would not support Trump if he were the 2024 GOP nominee, and has accused him of “embracing insurrection.”

The FEC data shows that some PACs and individual donors gave to each of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach, suggesting blanket support for lawmakers who stood up to Trump.

Read more: These 10 high-profile Republicans who dumped Trump are mostly wary to back Biden’s re-election. At least for now.

These included some major Democratic donors who crossed the party line. Both Baupost Group CEO Seth Klarman and Lone Pine Capital CEO Stephen Mandel gave $2,900 to each lawmaker, Bloomberg reported.

Restaurateur Kimbal Musk, typically a Democrat donor, gave $2,800 to each of them.

Some lawmakers loyal to Trump have also received a flood of donations. Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene raised $3.2 million in her first three months in Congress, the FEC’s records show. Greene has repeatedly spread Trump’s voter-fraud conspiracy theories, which have been thoroughly debunked.

marjorie taylor greene
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene received $3.2 million in her first three months.

The size of Greene’s haul is almost unheard of for a first-term congresswoman, Insider’s Grace Panetta reported. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in comparison, brought in $726,000 in her first quarter in office in 2019.

Trump said on March 10 that he expected Republicans to regain control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections and win back the White House in 2024.

Read the original article on Business Insider

McConnell says the quiet part out loud, tells corporate America to ‘stay out of politics,’ but clarifies he’s ‘not talking about political contributions’

GettyImages mitch mcconnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

  • Mitch McConnell warned corporations to “stay out of politics” at a Monday news conference.
  • His comments came after a slew of corporations spoke out against Georgia’s restrictive voting law.
  • But Tuesday, McConnell clarified, saying he wasn’t “talking about political contributions. “
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear he wants corporate CEOs to stay out of politics. Unless that is, they’re putting money in politicians’ campaigns.

The senator from Kentucky chastised American corporations Monday, suggesting the companies’ leaders need to stop speaking out about Georgia’s restrictive new voting law, warning there could be consequences for those that continue to do so.

“My advice to the corporate CEOs of America is to stay out of politics. Don’t pick sides in these big fights,” McConnell said at a news conference Monday.

Twitter users and journalists were quick to point out McConnell’s status as a longtime recipient of corporate donations, outstripping most other members of Congress by some measures when it came to political donations.

But McConnell rebuked any suggestions of hypocrisy Tuesday, clarifying his original statements and carving out an exception for political contributions.

“I’m not talking about political contributions,” McConnell said during a stop at a Kentucky health clinic Tuesday. “I’m talking about taking a position on a highly incendiary issue like this and punishing a community or a state because you don’t like a particular law they passed. I just think it’s stupid.”

Major League Baseball announced last week that it would no longer host its 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta in the wake of Georgia’s new voting law, which Civil Rights activists have criticized as suppressing voters and in particular, Black voters.

Many corporations followed suit, including major Georgia-based companies like Coca-Cola, Delta, and Home Depot.

Republicans have slammed the MLB’s decision and the onslaught of corporate responses, calling for boycotts and threatening tax hikes to punish companies that have spoken out.

On Monday, McConnell accused corporations that oppose the law of acting like a “woke alternative government,” saying it would “invite serious consequences if they became a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order.”

But the minority leader, who received more than $3 million in corporate PAC donations during the 2020 election cycle, according to OpenSecrets, was careful in his language Tuesday, saying businesses have a “right to participate in the political process.”

“Most of them contribute to both sides, they have political action committees, that’s fine, it’s legal, I support that,” he said.

The Citizens United supreme court ruling from 2010 said that “independent political spending” was protected as part of the First Amendment.

According to MarketWatch, McConnell received $258,880 from CEOs and S&P 500 companies during the 2020 cycle – more than any other candidate in a competitive Senate race that year.

However, when it comes to the First Amendment right to free speech not curtailed by Congress, while not issuing punishment, McConnell did issue a warning: “If I were running a major corporation, I would stay out of politics,” adding that the corporations are “irritating a hell of a lot of Republican fans.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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

Microsoft president Brad Smith candidly confesses politics are pay-to-play in response to criticism over the company’s donations to lawmakers who objected to US election results

microsoft brad smith
Microsoft president Brad Smith.

Microsoft CEO Brad Smith offered his employees a candid take this week on why the company gives money to politicians, shedding light on the heated debate over how corporate America should respond to GOP-led efforts to overturn the results of the US presidential election.

“It plays an important role. Not because the checks are big, but because the way the political process works,” Smith said, according to CNBC. “Politicians in the United States have events, they have weekend retreats, you have to write a check and then you’re invited and participate.”

Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

After 147 Republican members of Congress challenged states’ Electoral College votes earlier this month, on the same day protesters violently broke into the US Capitol in a deadly riot, America’s biggest companies – and political spenders – faced criticism for their financial support of the lawmakers who had for months undermined confidence in the election.

One of those companies was Microsoft, which has given more than $178,000 to 61 those lawmakers through its political action committee, MSPAC, during the latest election cycles – the third-most among S&P 500 companies.

Read more: Joe Biden touts transparency, but his presidential inauguration spending remains a money mystery as organizers won’t disclose who’s cashing in

Microsoft temporarily paused all of its MSPAC contributions following pushback from employees. But as critics noted, the company hasn’t specifically committed to stop funding the lawmakers who attempted to overturn the election results – despite Smith signing a letter denouncing those efforts – effectively penalizing lawmakers who upheld the principles espoused in the letter.

Smith argued to employees on Thursday that the contributions are still important because they get Microsoft’s lobbyists access to politicians, which helps them build relationships so the lawmakers are more receptive when Microsoft wants to lobby them on an issue.

“If you work in the government affairs team in the United States, you spend your weekends going to these events; you spend your evenings going to these dinners, and the reason you go is because the PAC writes a check,” Smith said, according to CNBC.

Smith added that the relationships built at these events make it more likely lawmakers will be receptive when he calls them to ask for their help on employees’ immigration cases, as well as “issues around national security, or privacy, or procurement reform. Or the tax issues our finance team manages.”

However, Smith didn’t acknowledge contributions that companies give to candidates who are up for election and depend on those contributions to help them get – or stay – in power. In 2020 alone, Microsoft gave $88,000 to lawmakers up for election who eventually objected to Electoral College results.

Read more: EXCLUSIVE: GitHub is facing employee backlash after the firing of a Jewish employee who suggested ‘Nazis are about’ on the day of the US Capitol siege

Microsoft has come under fire from employees over its political support and government work before, and briefly paused its contributions in 2019 before quietly resuming them again just months later, according to Geekwire.

Smith’s comments provided a more direct acknowledgment than most executives typically give about how American politics are often “pay-to-play” – particularly following the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United that allowed companies to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence politics.

But they also came at a time when companies are facing unprecedented pressure from employees, customers, and shareholders, to rethink which candidates they support, who they do business with, and the positions they take on important national issues.

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