Public Citizen Calls on Corporations to Exit the Business of Influencing Elections
WASHINGTON, D.C. – An analysis released today by Public Citizen shows, since 2016, corporate political action committees (PACs) and industry trade associations have contributed $170 million to the campaign war chests of the 147 members of Congress who voted to challenge at least one state’s electoral college slate from the 2020 presidential election. Nineteen of these PACs have given at least $1 million to these lawmakers, and 46 of the PACs have supported at least 50% of these lawmakers, according to Public Citizen’s analysis, “Bankrolling the Disenfranchisers.”
The five largest political contributors are the National Association of Realtors, the American Bankers Association, National Automobile Dealers Association, National Beer Wholesalers Association, and AT&T.
Several corporations have announced that they will temporarily revise their political spending policies in the wake of the Jan. 6, riot, during which pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, leaving at least five people dead – including one police officer – and forcing members of Congress and Vice President Pence to run for their lives.
“A temporary suspension of contributions is not enough,” said Mike Tanglis, a research director at Public Citizen and one of the authors of the report. “These corporations cannot simply wait for the dust to settle and then resume business as usual. Our democracy may not survive the next insurrection.”
Public Citizen calls on trade associations and corporations across the board to demonstrate their reverence for democracy by closing their political spending operations, which would entail permanently ending their political action committees and pledging not to make contributions to unregulated super PACs or to outside groups that spend money to influence elections and keep their donors’ identities secret.
“The harrowing events of last week’s insurrection show us how precious and vulnerable our democracy is,” said Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president at Public Citizen. “We must rededicate America’s grand experiment to its foundational principle, which is rule by the people – not wealthy corporations and special interests.”