Many companies pledged to stop donating to the 147 Republicans that objected to the election results following the January 6 Capitol riot but the gesture was an “empty one,” The Associated Press reports.
Despite the pledges, many of the major companies have resumed donating to political action committees that fund Republican lawmakers, including a majority of the party who voted to block the certification.
Walmart, Pfizer, Intel, General Electric, and AT&T were among the companies that pledged to halt donations but have not.
The companies argue that PAC donations are different than direct contributions to the candidates but campaign finance experts say that rings hollow.
“Pledging not to give to a certain person doesn’t mean that much when there are so many other ways that corporate money reaches elected officials,” Daniel Weiner, a former senior counsel at the Federal Election Commission who now works at the Brennan Center for Justice, told HuffPost. “These pledges are largely symbolic.”
Walmart suspended its donations for about three months before donating $30,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The company also gave another $30,000 to the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm.
GE vowed that it would “halt donations to lawmakers who voted against certification” because “we believe it is important to ensure that our future contributions continue to reflect our company’s values and commitment to democracy.”
But by April, the company had given $15,000 to the NRCC and another $15,000 to the NSRC.
Pfizer pledged to suspend donations for six months but that lasted just three.
In April, the company gave $20,000 to the NSRC.
AT&T’s pledge may have lasted the shortest period of time. After pledging not to give any money to the lawmakers who objected in January, the company in February gave $5,000 to the House Conservatives Fund.
The company insists that it received assurances the money would not go to lawmakers who objected even though the PAC is led by a lawmaker who did.
“I don’t think these companies are giving to these groups because they supported the insurrection,” Weiner said. “They give money — and are pressured to give money — for a lot reasons all related to their bottom line.”