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Op-ed: The surest way to end corporate America’s love affair with money in politics

  • Corporations are clearly starting to rethink political donations.
  • What determines if it's a squall or a sea-change is how far the blame radiates and how active the consumer backlash against these corporations becomes.
  • Consumers have the power to hold companies accountable for political spending in ways that may be more influential than focusing on politicians, say Amy Jo Miller and Ian Woods of Goods Unite Us.

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump protest in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, January 6, 2021.Stephanie Keith | Reuters

Somewhere at the intersection of media and politics, violence has grown in the Grand Old Party. And corporate America is starting to back away.

Between the misinformation and conspiracies, the fear mongering and hate, a segment of the party has worked its way up to a coup. We still don't know how large a segment it is, only how much of it could afford time off last Wednesday, Jan. 6 to storm the U.S. Capitol Building. We also don't know which fact or image — the gallows, the zip-ties, the pipe bombs, chanting, or deaths — pushed so many to say "enough."

Maybe it was just the shock that something like this could happen in America. 

Whatever the reason, dozens of companies have quickly grown sour on the GOP. In fact, AT&T, Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Comcast — the three largest corporate donors to Republicans between 2013 and 2018 — just announced that they will immediately stop contributing to the 147 Republican members of Congress who refused to certify the Presidential election results. Dow and Walmart, both of whom are also large GOP donors, made the same pledge (ironically Dow and its senior executives have donated more to Donald Trump than all other candidates but one). 

Meanwhile, other large companies, like Facebook, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and Northrop Grumman have decided to pause PAC donations to both parties.  (Somewhat counter-intuitively, Facebook's announcement hurts the Democrats more than Republicans as Facebook donates substantially more to Democrats than to Republicans.)

Does corporate money in politics matter? Of course it does. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put it, "The three most important words in politics are 'cash on hand'." That's because, in general, the candidate who spends the most money wins 85% to 95% of the time.

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