In the hours after the Capitol riot nearly two years ago, 147 US lawmakers voted to overturn the 2020 election — effectively buttressing the false case of Donald Trump and his supporters who had resorted to violence.
The outcry from corporate America came quickly, with hundreds of companies vowing to stop donations to lawmakers who would eventually be known by opponents as the "sedition caucus."
While the backsliding began within months, two reports out in recent days show how most of those companies reversed course and resumed those donations. The reports come just weeks before midterm elections that will determine which party controls the House of Representatives and the Senate.
One compilation from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) found that out of nearly 250 companies that said they'd no longer support election deniers, more than two-thirds have resumed donations at this point.
Another analysis from a group called Accountable.US highlights companies that have given in August for the first time since the riot. New names there include the PACs for Allstate (ALL) and Mastercard (MA).
The continued checks come as Republicans are expected to regain some power in Washington even after a few good months for Democrats. Those months have included a relatively robust job market and the passage of the landmark Inflation Reduction Act, which tackles climate change, lowers prescription drug prices, and shores up funding for the Internal Revenue Service.
“We've gone from a red wave to a red puddle or a red trickle, however you want to frame it, but I am still as confident as ever that the House of Representatives is going to flip,” BTIG Director of Policy Research Isaac Boltansky recently told Yahoo Finance Live.
The new donations
It's likely some companies have reversed course to court some of these soon-to-be prominent Republican lawmakers. Insurance giant Allstate is just one example. They pledged to suspend contributions in 2021 and then “monitor and measure each lawmaker’s ongoing conduct.” Then, this August, the company's political arm gave money to Reps. Ralph Norman (R-SC) and Earl “Buddy” Carter (R-GA), who both voted not to certify Joe Biden’s victory.
Likewise, Mastercard suspended donations in 2021 and promised to “continue to review the criteria that inform our political contributions to ensure they reflect our values.” In August, its money went to figures in both parties, including Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), who also voted against certification.
Allstate and Mastercard didn't respond to requests for comment from Yahoo Finance.
If Republicans take control of Congress in 2023, lawmakers who receive these checks could wield considerable influence. Both Norman and Luetkemeyer serve on the influential House Financial Services Committee. Meanwhile, Luetkemeyer is also the ranking member on the House Small Business Committee, while Carter aims to chair the House Budget Committee in 2023.
‘It is worth risking their bottom line’
In total, Accountable.US says that Fortune 500 companies and corporate trade associations have now sent $27.3 million to these lawmakers, with $1.6 million in donations in August alone.
The group says that candidates could pay in November, pointing to a poll from this summer from Data for Progress, a liberal polling outfit, that found a majority of voters would be less likely to buy from companies knowing that they'd given to election deniers.
“It’s clear many companies believe it is worth risking their bottom line just to curry favor with more politicians, no matter what they’ve done to undermine democracy,” Accountable.US spokesperson Lindsey Melki said in a statement.
The researchers at CREW peg the total donations at $44 million, higher than the figure Accountable.US provided. CREW counts donations directly to campaigns as well donations to Republican leadership PACs, which use the funds to support many of these same lawmakers. CREW adds that companies and trade associations that had pledged to suspend donations have given more than $12 million alone.
Back in 2021, one might have thought that election deniers would be become pariahs. But nearly two years later, the opposite has largely happened. A recent New York Times reconstruction of that historic vote and its aftermath finds election denial has instead become a badge of honor and, for many Republicans, a requirement for advancement within the party.
These lawmakers have also been rewarded with a surge of money coming in from GOP grassroots donors in addition to the corporate donations filling their coffers.
Ben Werschkul is a Washington correspondent for Yahoo Finance.