The testimony in today’s Congressional investigation into the events of Jan. 6, 2021 was brutal. Witnesses described the melee that resulted as pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to take over the US Capitol building during the certification of the 2020 presidential election while beating, stabbing, and choking police officers.
“President Trump invited us here,” one officer said the rioters told him. “We’re here to stop the steal. Joe Biden is not the president, nobody voted for Joe Biden.”
Why would people hold this false belief to be true? The former president, Donald Trump, and key leaders in his party told them it was. Today, the belief in the big lie that Trump won the election is a key plank in the Republican Party platform.
“Nothing, truly nothing, has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day,” another officer, Michael Fanone, told lawmakers. “And in doing so, betray their oath of office.”
After the shocking incursion, anger over the events of that day was widespread. Many US corporations said they would stop donating to the campaign funds of the 140 Republican politicians who voted to reject election results from states where Biden won the election fair and square. These actions would provide the bare minimum of sanction for undermining the rule of law in the US.
Well, ha. It didn’t take long for major businesses to forget about the rule of law and get back to the business of paying for access to legislators. Today’s hearing, the first of several designed to probe the events of that day and dispel lies about what happened, is a good opportunity to highlight some of the recidivist firms who have no problem backing politicians willing to strip away Americans’ right to vote.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) keeps track of which businesses are donating to members of the “sedition caucus,” the 147 senators and members of congress who voted to reject voters in Arizona and Georgia. No evidence was brought then or now to suggest the results of the votes in those states were compromised.
Many firms said they would “pause” their political giving, providing an easy excuse to resume it quietly. More notable are the firms that made a firm commitment to stop, rather than pause, political giving, and then reneged on their commitment. Some gave to individual lawmakers, while others donated to party committees in the senate (NRSC) and House (NRCC) whose leaders voted to toss out valid electoral results. Here are the 13 companies, ranked by total donations, that reversed their position:
Spokespeople for the companies argue that this is just another way to support American values. “Engagement with those with whom we disagree is a critical part of the democratic process and our responsibility in legislative advocacy as a company,” Danielle Cassady, a UPS spokesperson, told the Washington Post, somewhat blurring the lines between engaging and supporting financially.
Among all donors to the sedition caucus—not just those who said they’d stop funding—Boeing is also the largest. The top 10 list includes many other defense contractors who depend on government largesse for business, including General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, and BAE Systems. Also there is American Crystal Sugar, which spends big in Washington to support farm subsidies and block sugar imports, and Koch Energy, motivated by petroleum subsidies and ideology. Rounding out the list is Nextera Energy, Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, train company CSX, and Toyota, which is (weirdly) lobbying against electric cars.
It’s worth noting the companies who appear to have stuck by their promise to avoid donating to lawmakers who voted to throw out legally cast votes. Amazon’s corporate political action committee hasn’t reported any donations to the Federal Election Commission this year, nor have the two operated by megabank JPMorgan Chase.
Corporations, definitionally amoral and compelled by the profit motive, were always unlikely standard-bearers for American democracy. But if their leadership forgot what it was like to see insurrectionists battering police officers and threatening their lives in an effort to stop the vote, you don’t have to.