January 24, 2022

By Adam DuBard, Political Analyst

A little over a year after the January 6th attack on the Capitol, the House Select Committee continues its investigation, while the Justice Department continues to arrest and prosecute the Americans involved in the breach of the Capitol. To date, more than 750 people have been charged in the January 6 Attack. However, the politicians in Congress who spoke at the rally before the attack, and the dozens more who voted to overturn the 2020 results, remain in Congress, and in fact the majority are planning for their re-election campaigns with renewed financial support. 

On January 6th last year, 147 members of Congress voted to overturn the 2020 election, citing baseless claims of fraud. For those Americans demanding some form of accountability for these politicians, the news that corporations and organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had ended their support for these politicians was welcome news. Shortly after the January 6 Attack last year, Thomas J. Donohue, the chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, denounced President Trump and the events of that day, saying “The president’s conduct last week was absolutely unacceptable and completely inexcusable.” Donahue went on to say that the Chamber of Commerce would cease funding and support of any members of Congress who had supported Trump’s attempts to overturn the election and undermine American democracy. 

This was a short-lived pledge. Less than two months later, the Chamber of Commerce went back on their word, announcing their renewed support for politicians who had clearly sought to undermine American democracy on the basis of unproven and fabricated claims of fraud. In a memo published on their website, senior political strategist Ashlee Rich Stephenson announced that the Chamber did “not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification.” 

In addition to the Chamber of Commerce, numerous corporations announced that their PACs would no longer be supporting members of Congress who had supported overturning the 2020 election. However, much like the Chamber of Commerce, these grave concerns over the future of American democracy have faded as these corporations have resumed their funding to the politicians who undermined and discredited the 2020 election. 

Short Memories, but Deep Pockets

According to a new report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), 717 corporations and industry groups have supported the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and 143 of the previously mentioned 147 members of Congress to the tune of $18 million in the last year. Of that $18 million, $4,785,000 came from corporations who previously explicitly pledged not to support members of the “Sedition Caucus,” as CREW refers to these members of Congress. Among these corporations are several high-profile and recognizable companies, including Boeing, who shelled out $346,500, Toyota with $89,500 in donations, and Aflac, with $48,000 in funding. 

Some of the biggest spenders were American defense contractors. Joining Boeing were General Dynamics with $233,500 in donations, Lockheed-Martin with $145,00 in donations, and Raytheon with $120,500 in donations. As previously documented by RepresentUs, defense contractors receive massive amounts of Congressional funding annually - these donations represent the cyclical, and increasingly unregulated, nature of American political fundraising. Undermining American democracy is hardly relevant so long as the taxpayer funds continue to flow.


Actions Without Accountability

While many Americans across the political spectrum have claimed that “cancel culture” is a serious threat to society, CREW’s report highlights how little accountability truly exists in American politics. These members of Congress took tangible steps to undermine American democracy against the clear will of American voters, yet continue to receive substantial financial support from massive international corporations. While these politicians prepare for their re-election campaigns, hundreds of their supporters remain in jail for their actions on January 6th, and the United States continues to backslide as a democracy. 

There remain opportunities to hold these politicians accountable, however. As CREW notes, Toyota did cease their funding to the “Sedition Caucus” in July of 2021 after receiving considerable public criticism, including from CREW itself. Hewlett Packard and Charles Schwab ceased PAC operations entirely, while Hallmark Cards actually requested that Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) return their PAC donations. While these are somewhat isolated incidents, they prove that pushing for accountability is possible when action is taken. However, more action will surely be needed to ensure these members of Congress are held accountable, while taking steps to protect and improve American democracy

RepresentUs is America’s leading anti-corruption organization working city-by-city, state-by-state to fix our broken political system.