Congressional fundraisers lobby corporations that suspended political donations following Capitol riot

Key Points
  • Political fundraisers are lobbying corporations to resume donating after many suspended their donations following the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
  • Some companies decided to pause contributions to GOP lawmakers who challenged the 2020 election results.
  • Other businesses suspended donations to candidates across the political spectrum.
Former US President Donald Trump's supporters gather outside the Capitol building, January 6, 2021.
Probal Rashid | LightRocket | Getty Images

Fundraisers for congressional candidates and party campaign groups are lobbying corporations to resume political donations after many suspended their contributions, according to people familiar with the matter.

Dozens of corporations paused, at least temporarily, donations from their political action committees after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that led to at least five deaths. That day, more than 145 Republican lawmakers — encouraged by then-President Donald Trump — voted to dispute the results of the Electoral College certifying Joe Biden as the next president.

Most companies have since said they are reviewing their PACs' policies on whom they will give money to in the future. Some companies decided to pause contributions indefinitely to GOP lawmakers who challenged the election results. Other businesses opted to suspend donations to candidates across the political spectrum.

These corporate PACs can usually give up to $5,000 to a candidate and around $15,000 to a national party committee.

Fundraisers for individual candidates running for reelection in Senate and House races — along with those raising cash for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee — have reached out to corporations, encouraging them to remove their restrictions and resume contributing, the people said.

They spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak freely about ongoing private conversations.

The NRCC recently put together a list of corporate donation policies, which fundraisers expect to use as a tool to coax companies into giving again, one of the people said.

People and groups with ties to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have been actively reaching out to corporations to get them to start donating again, another person said.

Representatives for the congressional committees did not return requests for comment. Some companies did not deny they had been contacted by political fundraisers.

However, computer giant Dell Technologies said it doesn't plan on changing its mind.

"We have no plans to revisit the decision to suspend contributions to members of Congress whose statements and activities during the post-election period weren't in line with Dell Technologies' principles," a company spokesperson told CNBC. "Our employee-led PAC board meets regularly to discuss current events and to vote on key decisions like changes to PAC contributions. All PAC contributions are a matter of public record so you will be able to stay informed on any future updates."

Representatives for JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup said they are continuing to review their policies, declining to comment further. Both banks paused and started reevaluating their PACs' contributions.

A Goldman Sachs spokesperson said the bank had not yet heard from anyone about when it might start making contributions again. A spokeswoman for UPS said the company's stance on pausing contributions is unchanged and that, to her knowledge, the company has not heard from anyone on the matter.

Several other companies including Amazon, Facebook, AT&T and Marriott, did not return requests for comment.

Candidates are starting to gear up for the 2022 midterm elections, during which a third of the Senate and all of the House seats will be up for grabs. The elections are expected to be expensive, and fundraisers believe they need corporate money to pad campaign coffers.

The Democrats, who have the slimmest of majorities in the Senate, have 14 seats up for reelection in that chamber. Republicans have 20 Senate seats up for reelection, including Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, who challenged the 2020 election results. Cook Political Report ranks his seat as "solid Republican." Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and other senators who pushed back on the 2020 election results aren't up for reelection next year.

Axios reported March 7 the NRSC had the most success with digital fundraising using Hawley's name compared with any other senator except the committee's chairman, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida.

Democratic fundraisers are urging companies to resume donations, citing their determination to oust the Republican lawmakers who encouraged and espoused the false election narrative that triggered the riot.

On the other hand, Republican fundraisers have warned donors about Democrats' intention to raise the corporate tax rate.

Since January's riot, some companies and business groups have revealed their plans for the midterm campaign.

Microsoft announced last month its PAC would "suspend contributions for the duration of the 2022 election cycle to all members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of electors." The company added the PAC would "suspend contributions for the same period for state officials and organizations who supported such objections or suggested the election should be overturned."

The Chamber of Commerce said in a March memo it would not continue its ban on contributions to lawmakers who challenged the election results. The business advocacy group said it would "evaluate our support for candidates – Republicans and Democrats – based on their position on issues important to the Chamber, as well as their demonstrated commitment to governing and rebuilding our democratic institutions."

"We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification," the chamber said.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that a UPS spokeswoman said the company's stance on political contributions is unchanged. A previous version misstated the company's name.