Corporate America quietly bankrolling insurrectionist politicians

Corporate America quietly bankrolling insurrectionist politicians

It’s time again to check in on the American companies that promised to end campaign donations to elected Republican officials who, compelled by obvious hoaxes and paper-thin conspiracy theories, supported an attempted overthrow of the United States government. How’s that going? How are anti-coup companies faring in their efforts to, at the bare minimum, not provide future election aid to politicians who, rather than accept Donald Trump’s not-even-close second-place finish, tried to nullify the last American presidential election?

Not great! When we last visited the issue, it turned out that some companies had resumed donations, breaking their promises almost immediately because political corruption in the United States is so omnipresent that pro-sedition politicians felt free to openly threaten companies that didn’t keep forking over checks. Companies also have been dodging promises to cut off pro-sedition politicians by instead funneling the money through political action committees. Apparently, they believe their customers are too dimwitted to put two and two together if the company checks go through passthrough accounts first.

A new Politico review of some of the largest companies that promised to end political donations to pro-coup politicians now identifies another barely covert workaround. Even though massive corporations like Amazon, Microsoft, Meta, and Google have ostensibly promised not to prop up those who attempted to erase a presidential election, that money hasn’t dried up. Instead, the lobbyists for those corporations have been writing “personal” donations to the same coup supporters.

Why? Again, it’s not a mystery. Those tech companies, along with other big firms like “Allstate, Toyota, Nike, and Dow Chemical Company,” have a lot of profits at stake with every new tweak to specific U.S. laws. Any lobbyist whose career relies on coaxing those laws into versions more favorable to their employing company knows full well that they’d better show up with campaign funds in their pocket if they want any of the crooked lawmaking kleptocrats to give them the time of day. So here we are again: saddled with House and Senate members so transparently corrupt that the people who deal with them most don’t believe they can cut off payments even after those members attempted to erase the next U.S. administration outright.

That’s how crooked our political systems currently are, and that’s how unwilling corporate lobbyists are to band together to shut out even the worst of the coup’s supporters. It’s the prisoners’ dilemma, brand name edition: If every company agreed to stop supporting pro-sedition crooks, those crooks could be purged from office. But if every company is not to agree to that, then you’d better be on Team Bribe rather than Team Patriotism—because the political crooks who don’t get ousted will be gunning for any company that took itself off Team Bribe.

Politico reports $28,000 in “personal” lobbyist donations to lawmakers who voted to nullify the 2020 election results, representing 13 ostensibly pro-democracy companies, which should again underline just how little money it takes to influence a crooked House member these days. The outlet also reports that “most” of the companies had no comment about the donations. The companies that did respond noted that, since it was lobbyists’ personal money, they didn’t break their corporate promises.

Which, again, is just another version of the passthrough dodge. Even companies still claiming to not support lawmakers who engaged in an attempted coup insist that, if their corporate money makes it into pro-coup hands—whether through donations to political action committees or their hired lobbyists’ personal accounts—that money doesn’t count.

We get it, we really do. It has been excruciating for companies caught between democracy and the grifting corruption of Washington’s business as usual. The great majority of them have been no doubt endlessly debating just how fluid their pro-democracy values can be without jeopardizing a system of government hand-built to cater to corporate whim at the expense of nearly everything else. Even companies with boards that are absolutely adamant about saving American democracy don’t want to get out over their skis just in case the coup-plotters are more successful the next time around. It’s not good business to make political enemies, and the more openly corrupt a political system is, the worse an idea it gets.

But lobbyists are a dime a dozen, and each of these companies could indeed extend their corporate promises to clarify that they will not give campaign money to pro-coup lawmakers who voted to erase an election and will also not use the services of lobbyists or legal firms who do support anti-democracy forces.

There are, somewhere out there, business professionals who know the difference between glad-handing and acting as willing conspirators against our democracy. Perhaps give them a call instead?

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