By Kevin Robillard
A major Democratic group is pushing corporate America to stop funding key Republican campaign committees run by members of Congress who voted to overturn the election results, hoping to turn a short-term GOP worry into a major funding problem.
End Citizens United, a well-funded campaign finance group known for encouraging Democrats to swear off corporate PAC money, is promising to relentlessly pester corporations to cease donating to four major GOP groups: the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Congressional Leadership Fund and the Republican Attorneys General Association.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy plays a major role in raising money for the NRCC and CLF and Florida Sen. Rick Scott is the chair of the NRSC. Both men voted to overturn the results of the election. A group affiliated with the RAGA promoted a rally in Washington, D.C., on the same day as the insurrection; the group’s executive director has since resigned.
Two high-profile GOP groups are notably absent from the list: Senate Leadership Fund, which is run by allies of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell; and the Republican Governors Association, whose chair, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, has recognized President-elect Joe Biden’s victory and plans to attend the Democrat’s inauguration.
“Corporations that have the good sense not to donate to Kevin McCarthy and Rick Scott because of their attempts to overthrow the election should certainly not give them even larger checks to spread their seditious agenda throughout Congress,” Tiffany Muller, the president of End Citizens United, told HuffPost. “And the corporations that have not come to the conclusion that they should refrain from giving should put the country first and get on board.”
Dozens of Fortune 500 and other companies, including Nike and Walmart, have promised to no longer donate to Republicans who voted to overturn the election results. Other companies have said they plan to review their PAC spending or pause their political giving. (Popular Information, a newsletter written by progressive journalist Judd Legum, is continuing to hound companies whose PACs have donated to the 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the results.)
Spokespeople for the NRSC, NRCC and CLF did not respond to emails seeking comment.
Three companies that collectively donated more than $4 million to CLF — Valero Energy, Marathon Petroleum and Chevron — have all said they planned to pause political contributions. As a super PAC, CLF can collect unlimited sums from corporations, as long as it does not directly coordinate its spending with candidates.
Republican strategists are nervous about the possible impact on campaign funding, especially on the finances of the NRSC and NRCC, which will lead the GOP’s charge to win back Congress in 2022. Corporations cannot directly give to either group, though corporate PACs — which are typically funded by executives — can donate up to $5,000.
While corporate PACs provide a relatively small portion of overall political giving, they often direct individual donations from company executives and allies. Still, traditional corporate PACs have faded in importance as both grassroots small-dollar donations and multimillion dollar checks to super PACs have increased.
Some Republicans have suggested the furor over the insurrection is likely to fade, and many corporations will return to normal giving before the 2022 midterms. (Traditionally, only about a third of corporate PAC giving occurs during the first six months of an election cycle.) Muller and End Citizens United are determined to prevent that from happening, and will also pressure corporations to ask for refunds for past donations.
“We will be paying attention, we will be making sure that their employees know which corporations are starting to give again,” Muller said. “A publicity stunt is not going to be good enough.”