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Most, but not all, corporations kept their post-January 6 PAC pledges

Marking a year since the Capitol insurrection
Washington prepares to mark one year since deadly January 6 insurrection 07:40

After the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, dozens of major corporations publicly pledged to pause their financial contributions to 147 Republican lawmakers who had voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election. A year later, most — but not all — of those companies have kept their word, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission filings.

Since the riot, corporate political action committee dollars flowing to Republican objectors fell by nearly two-thirds, progressive newsletter Popular Information found. Big-name companies like Allstate, American Express, Nike and Walgreens are among the 79 major corporations that have adhered to their commitment not to donate directly to Republican objectors or to political committees that support them, the newsletter reported. 

"There has been a significant decrease in corporate support for Republican objectors," Popular Information founder and author Judd Legum told CBS MoneyWatch. "On the other hand, you do have a number of companies that made fairly strong statements on January 6 that are backsliding."

The backsliders, according to Popular Information's analysis of FEC filings, include Cigna, Eli Lilly, Exelon and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. 

Violence "never" justified

Cigna, one of the country's largest health insurers, initially decried the January 6 insurrection and vowed to no longer support lawmakers who failed to oppose the attack on people and property. 

"There is never justification for violence or destruction like we saw at the U.S. Capitol. The CignaPAC will discontinue support of elected officials who encouraged or supported violence, or hindered the peaceful transition of power," the company said in a statement on January 12, 2021, one it reiterated the following month.

Since then, however, Cigna has donated $30,000 to 15 of the congressional Republicans who objected to certifying the election results and $15,000 to both the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), according to Popular Information. 

Veteran Capitol Police officer reflects on deadly January 6 attack one year later 03:13

Cigna did not respond to a request for comment from CBS MoneyWatch. The company told the New York Times in April that congressional votes are "by definition, part of the peaceful transition of power," and that its pledge only applied to lawmakers "who incited violence or actively sought to obstruct the peaceful transition of power through words and other efforts."

Online marketplace eBay has donated $2,500 to one Republican objector after announcing its "decision to suspend contributions to members of Congress that voted against the peaceful transfer of power" after January 6, Popular Information said. EBay refuted the characterization, with a spokesperson telling CBS MoneyWatch in an email that the company "did not make a donation to one of the 147 after January 6." 

"Appalling events"

A year ago, Eli Lilly signaled it would not support "anyone who promoted violence or sedition that contributed to the appalling events on January 6," but has since donated $42,500 to 16 of the 147 Republican objectors. The drugmaker also gave $15,000 to the NRCC in July 2021 and $15,000 to the NRSC the following month, Popular Information found.

Why the apparent change of heart? A spokesperson for the Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical company explained in an email to CBS MoneyWatch: "LillyPAC supports candidates across the political spectrum who understand the value of a vibrant pharmaceutical ecosystem to address unmet patient needs. Contributions from LillyPAC will continue to be in line with Lilly's purpose to make life better." 

Chicago-based utility Exelon has donated $15,000 to six of the Republican objectors since declaring last January it would suspend contributions to lawmakers who voted to contest the election. 

A spokesperson for Exelon stated in an email this week: "We continue to believe we can more effectively advocate on behalf of our customers and communities by engaging with policymakers in areas where we find common ground. As part of that process, we continue to evaluate our giving, and in instances where we find that a candidate's positions — when considered in total — are not aligned with our values or our business priorities, we won't hesitate to withhold our support."

Americans still divided over Capitol attack 02:16

Likewise, the management consultancy PriceWaterhouseCoopers has donated $124,000 to 27 Republican objectors, Legum and his colleagues reported, since announcing last year it had suspended "all political contributions" to any member of Congress who voted to object to certifying the presidential electoral results. A spokesperson for the firm declined to comment. 

7 vow to maintain donation freeze

Contributions to the lawmakers who contested the election outcome drew fire from advocacy group Accountable US, which has issued its own report detailing more than $8.1 million in donations to the elected officials by corporations and trade groups. 

"Major corporations were quick to condemn the insurrection and tout their support for democracy — and almost as quickly, many ditched those purported values by cutting big checks to the very politicians that helped instigate the failed coup attempt," Kyle Herrig, the watchdog group's president, said Monday in a statement. 

"The increasing volume of corporate donations to lawmakers who tried to overthrow the will of the people makes clear that these companies were never committed to standing up for democracy in the first place," Herrig said

Popular Information reached out to 183 companies, and just seven explicitly pledged to withhold PAC funding to Republican objectors in 2022. That list includes Airbnb, American Express, BASF, Dow, Eversource Energy, Lyft and Microsoft. 

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