The funding of U.S. political campaigns is being rocked as major firms such as Facebook, BlackRock, Marriott and Dow announced plans to halt some or all political contributions as a result of last week’s insurrection at the Capitol — a sign of corporate America’s growing uneasiness with the election doubts and violent attacks inspired by President Trump.

Major companies that collectively pour millions of dollars annually into campaigns through employee-funded political action committees are registering their worry and anger about last week’s chaos by pledging to reexamine their role in American politics.

Facebook and Microsoft said they will halt all political donations while they reviewed their giving. BlackRock made a similar announcement in a memo to its employees, noting its decision was spurred by “the horrific events in the nation’s capital.” Others, such as Marriott, announced more targeted action: A pause to the campaign cash flowing to Republicans who voted against certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

Marriott, the world’s largest hotel chain, said its decision suspending donations to 147 Republican U.S. representatives and senators was motivated by “the destructive events at the Capitol to undermine a legitimate and fair election.”

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association said it would do the same, with the provider of health insurance to more than 100 million people pledging to end contributions “to those lawmakers who voted to undermine our democracy.”

American Express struck a similar note in a memo sent to all employees Monday, halting contributions to the Congress members who voted “to subvert the presidential election results and disrupt the peaceful transition of power.”

It was strong language. Last week’s violence at the Capitol appears to have companies scrambling to figure out how to react, as they increasingly realize that this is not an ordinary political dispute and the option of sitting on the sidelines grows increasingly unsatisfying.

“These corporations are doing something very new, and something that could potentially alienate an important base for them,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a money-in-politics group. “I’ve never heard of this happening before.”

Dow said its decision to cut off political donations to the 147 Republican U.S. representatives and senators would last for an entire election cycle — two years for House members and six years for senators.

How a pro-Trump mob was able to breach security and storm the Capitol
Capitol Police were unable to stop a breach of the Capitol. Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig and a former Senate Sergeant at Arms describe the events. (The Washington Post)
Commerce Bank — a holding company with branches in five mostly Midwestern states — said in a statement that its PAC has “suspended all support for officials who have impeded the peaceful transfer of power.”

Some of the corporate decisions were first reported by the online newsletter Popular Information.

Shortly after a mob breached the Capitol, companies and trade groups rushed to register their outrage, with statements ranging from condemnations to direct calls for Trump’s removal from office.

Marriott’s PAC — which is funded by employee donations — gave more than $410,000 in the last election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission data.

The hotel chain also has a direct business relationship with Trump. It books travel to Trump Turnberry through the Marriott Luxury Collection program.

Companies backed Trump for years. Now they’re facing a reckoning after the attack on the Capitol.

Marriott’s decision — along with ones such as from Blue Cross Blue Shield — would hurt the fundraising efforts of those who voted last week against certifying the presidential election results.

More pressure on companies is coming. The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, in the coming days will launch a multimillion-dollar ad campaign targeting companies that bankroll Republicans who voted against certifying the results of the election, pushing those firms to cease donations to these and other Republicans.

The project will launch broadcast and cable advertising aimed at these companies and their senior leaders. The Lincoln Project will also target advertising for these corporation’s workers, hoping to “destabilize the companies’ operations by fomenting employee rebellions,” said Steve Schmidt, co-founder of the Lincoln Project.

Schmidt declined to comment on the companies the Lincoln Project plans to campaign against but pointed out that AT&T, BlackRock and Charles Schwab are among the corporate entities that donate to Republican lawmakers.

“Eighty-$90 million was spent by corporate America on political committees … on extremist groups that have destabilized American democracy,” Schmidt said. “After this point, nothing goes back to normal.”

Jena McGregor and David A. Fahrenthold contributed to this report.


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