In the wake of the attempted insurrection by supporters of Donald Trump, many corporate supporters of the Republican Party announced they would no longer donate to politicians who egged on those who took over the Capitol. Dozens of major companies, from American Express to Airbnb, vowed to cut off any future contributions to the 147 GOP lawmakers who voted on January 6 to overturn the election.
As is the case with many political acts made in corporate America, the grand statements did not have much of a practical effect. According to an analysis from Reuters, major backers of Trump’s election-fraud claims have been flooded with grassroots donations to offset this loss in PAC money:
Reuters examined contributions by more than 45 corporate donor committees that vowed to cut off the 147 Republicans — eight senators and 139 members of the House of Representatives. The review found that the political action committees (PACs) gave about $5 million to the lawmakers during the 2019-2020 election cycle — or only about 1% of the money the lawmakers raised, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) disclosures.
By comparison, Republican fundraising operations supporting Senate and House candidates raked in a combined $15.8 million in January alone on the strength of small-dollar donations. These groups outraised their Democratic counterparts by more than $2 million that month, regulatory filings show.
Two of the most prominent backers of the Capitol rioters, Senator Josh Hawley and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, walked away from the disaster with a significant amount of cash in hand. Hawley claims he took in $969,000 in donations in January, which is eight times the amount he raised in the first quarter of 2020. Greene, meanwhile, claims she pulled in $335,000 contributions in the two days before she was stripped of her committee assignments over past claims, including a 2019 recording suggesting Nancy Pelosi should “suffer death or she’ll be in prison” for treason.
The boost in small-dollar donations is consistent with several trends in political fundraising. Since the rise of donor platforms like Act Blue and WinRed allowing for easy online donations, individual donations have surged, accounting for two-thirds of total funding in the 2020 cycle. And the party out of power traditionally is able to drum up support among donors furious over the agenda of the party that won, whether that’s the Trump travel ban or the demasculinizing of Mr. Potato Head. As for the permanence of the corporate backlash, that, too, appears to have been overstated: Last Friday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce determined it would not boycott Republican lawmakers who voted to overturn the Electoral College results.