Corporations Grapple With Giving Guidelines

Companies wondering how to address last week’s insurrection at the Capitol have a few gating questions to determine their response:

  • Can corporations ride out this storm silently or will they be forced to take a position
  • Is an across-the-board pause in giving appropriate when only Republicans supported challenges to the election?
  • Must Republicans who supported these efforts — especially leaders such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Republican Senate Campaign Chief Sen. Rick Scott — step down from their current positions or alter their behavior to continue to serve effectively?  
  • And for customers and voters, will a majority punish companies who fail to take a stand? Or will most quickly fall back to their party affiliations in determining how to respond?

While many companies recognize a need to do something, there’s no “goldilocks” consensus position at this point.

Instead, companies seem to be proceeding according to their own values and priorities, recognizing that any position is likely to anger one or both political parties and a middle ground will be difficult to find

Some major corporations have pledged to pause all political donations, with others opting to cut off donations to the 147 lawmakers who objected to certifying Biden’s Electoral College victory.  

Facebook, Microsoft and Google are all pausing political spending. Meanwhile, a UPS spokesperson tells Politico Influence that the shipping company is suspending its PAC giving “for now,” and some of the country’s largest financial institutions like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Mastercard have all temporarily halted political contributions to members of both parties.  

On the other hand, Airbnb said its PAC will update its giving policies to “withhold support” from those who voted against election certification. And others like the Dow Chemical Company have gone so far as to request refunds from Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) and other leaders of what some have dubbed the “insurrection caucus.”  

While some brands may decide to avoid major, long lasting policy changes now in hopes the storm dissipates, questions about how to respond to the attack on the Capitol could continue to face political leaders, corporations and individual voters for many months down the road.