Corporate PACs and industry trade groups steered over $66 million to election objectors in the two years after Jan. 6 attack

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) answers questions about the establishment of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. on June 25, 2021. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Corporate PACs and industry trade groups have steered more than $66 million to election objectors since Jan. 6, 2021, a new OpenSecrets analysis of post-general federal campaign finance filings found. 

Around 1,550 business PACs — which include corporate PACs and industry trade groups — poured more than $57 million of that into political contributions directly to the campaigns of 142 of the members of Congress who voted against the certification of 2020 election results amid the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021. Corporate PACs and industry trade groups poured about $9 million more into leadership PACs affiliated with those same election objectors.

Several election objectors supported by the business PACs were voted out of office in the 2022 midterms, but most are returning to Congress this term. As OpenSecrets reported in November, more than 95% of the 124 election objectors who ran for reelection in the House of Representatives in 2022 were successful, with just five election-objecting incumbents losing their bids in either the Republican primary or the general election. Twelve other election objectors chose to retire from Congress, while another three died in office.

While numerous corporations pledged to stop or reevaluate PAC giving to election objectors after Jan. 6, 2021, several of those companies’ PACs resumed giving to Congress’ so-called “Sedition Caucus,” steering tens of millions of dollars to those members over the course of the 2022 election cycle. 

Major companies that have since resumed corporate PAC contributions to election objectors include AT&T, Boeing, Cigna, Comcast, General Motors, Home Depot, Lockheed Martin, Marathon Petroleum, Pfizer, Raytheon, UPS, UnitedHealth, Verizon and Walmart

The business PACs that contributed most to election objectors were trade associations including the National Association of Realtors, National Beer Wholesalers Association, National Auto Dealers Association and American Bankers Association.

Companies and industry groups that previously responded to requests for comment from OpenSecrets, POLITICO and other outlets routinely said resuming contributions was a result of support for specific policies rather than votes cast by lawmakers on Jan. 6, 2021. Top contributor National Association of Realtors told OpenSecrets in November that it had lifted the pause on contributions to election objectors “to ensure the association could engage in a nonpartisan way on behalf of members and consumers.”

Corporate PACs and industry trade groups contributed more money to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who voted against certifying 2020 election results, than any other election objector during the 2022 election cycle. 

Business PACs steered more than $2.1 million to McCarthy’s campaign committee and leadership PAC over the two-year election cycle, with $1.3 million of that going to his campaign committee and $816,500 going to his leadership PAC, the Majority Committee PAC

McCarthy’s campaign received contributions from Northop Grumman, American Airlines and Chevron. Comcast Corp. — which was among the corporations that initially suspended contributions to election objectors after the Jan. 6 attack — also contributed to McCarthy’s campaign and leadership PAC.

Top 2022 cycle donors to McCarthy’s leadership PAC included Fedex Corp, Exxon Mobil and Home Depot.

On the second anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack, McCarthy is in the midst of a historically drawn-out bid to be House speaker. Over the past four days of voting, efforts have been blocked by up to 15 Republican incumbents and five members-elect. Fourteen of the 15 incumbents are election objectors, all but Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas).

One of the members supporting McCarthy’s bid is Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), whose campaign reported receiving more money from PACs affiliated with corporations and business trade groups than any other election denier’s campaign — not including leadership PACs — during the last election cycle. 

Business PACs steered about more than $1.3 million to Smith’s campaign. Smith served as the top Republican on the House Budget Committee in the 117th Congress and is reportedly vying for the top spot on the House Ways and Means Committee. 

Corporate PACs contributing $10,000 to Smith’s campaign during the 2022 cycle include Cigna, AT&T and Deloitte.

Other House election objectors who received more than $1 million in campaign and leadership PAC contributions from corporate PACs include Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) and Mike Rogers (R-Ala.). 

Luetkemeyer, Graves, Thompson and Rogers served as ranking members of House committees in the 117th congress.

Committees Researcher Andrew Mayersohn contributed to this report.

Download the dataset here.