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More business groups suspend political contributions

U.S. Chamber says some lawmakers have 'forfeited' Chamber support

fencingThe U.S. Capitol surrounded by fencing following the Jan. 6 attack         Nicole Glass/

Jan. 15, 2021
By William Ehart

Updated from original story posted Jan. 12.

A growing list of associations are suspending or reassessing political spending in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce—one of the biggest trade-group spenders on elections—said Jan. 12 that certain lawmakers—whom it didn’t name—have “forfeited” Chamber support.

“I want to be very clear that there are some members (of Congress) who by their actions will have forfeited the support of the U.S. Chamber,” EVP and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley said at a press conference following Chamber CEO Tom Donohue’s State of American Business Address.

Bradley did not name names, though in response to a reporter’s question, said that the Chamber would not “focus just” on Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). He said the Chamber will be closely watching lawmakers’ actions over the next week as it makes decisions on whom to support.

“We’re going to have a lot more to say about the members whose actions last week, and the actions over the next eight days and beyond, will have cost them the Chamber’s support,” Bradley said.

The Chamber’s spending often includes millions of dollars on advertising to support favored candidates.

Four more associations now have followed the lead of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and some major corporations in suspending PAC contributions specifically to the 147 GOP lawmakers who voted against certifying the Electoral College vote. Those are the Motion Picture Association, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the American Hospital Association and TechNet.

TechNet said its move applies to all fundraising activities as well, and will remain in force for "the foreseeable future."

But most groups that are reacting say they are suspending all PAC giving, to all candidates, pending a review.

The following list of associations and their responses so far is based on announcements by the groups, media reports and CEO Update inquiries. Six of the associations in the list ranked among the top 20 for PAC giving to the 147 GOP objectors during the 2020 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. (The names of these six groups on this list are followed by an asterisk.)

Of course, the first quarter following an election year is a slow one for political contributions anyway, and the amounts PACs can directly give political campaigns—a maximum of $5,000 each for the primary and general election—is small compared to the many millions of dollars spent on some elections.

Suspending PAC contributions to lawmakers who voted against certification:
Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
Motion Picture Association
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
American Hospital Association

Suspending all PAC giving pending review:
Credit Union National Association*
National Association of Realtors*
National Beer Wholesalers Association*
American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers
American Investment Council
Edison Electric Institute
Independent Petroleum Association of America
Investment Company Institute
Consumer Bankers Association
Mortgage Bankers Association
Entertainment Software Association
Biotechnology Innovation Organization

Reviewing political spending in light of Jan. 6 events:
American Bankers Association*
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
National Automobile Dealers Association*
American Chemistry Council
American Clean Power Association
Nuclear Energy Institute
Interstate Natural Gas Association

The American Bankers Association was the top association PAC giver to the candidates who voted against certification, with contributions of more than $1.3 million in the 2020 cycle, according to CRP.

“As we do after every election, we will meet with all of our stakeholders in the coming weeks to review our political activities from the last campaign cycle before making any decisions about future plans,” the ABA said in a statement to CEO Update. “The troubling events of the last week will certainly be a consideration in those discussions.”

The National Automobile Dealers Association, another top association PAC funder to those lawmakers with contributions of $918,000, told CEO Update in a statement that it will reassess its policies.

“The events that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 were shocking, tragic and condemnable,” the association said. “NADA PAC is currently assessing our political contributions going forward."