What election objectors could cost their corporate donors
Any remaining notions that the presidential transition would go smoothly were shattered this weekend when 11 Republican senators announced that they would not certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory during a joint Congressional session on Wednesday. At the same time, President Trump pressured Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” enough votes to flip the state to him, on a Saturday phone call that was recorded. (That said, the prospect of a constitutional crisis hasn’t rattled markets: U.S. futures are up this morning.)
The group of senators, led by Ted Cruz of Texas, will call for an emergency audit of election results in “disputed states,” without citing specific evidence of fraud. (There’s also Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, who had already promised to dispute the result.) Scores of Republican House members also plan to reject the count, attracting strong condemnation and setting off infighting in the party. And companies whose political arms donated to these lawmakers’ campaigns now face accusations of funding their maneuvers.
How businesses are being linked with this gambit. The senators rejecting the election count include Steve Daines of Montana, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Roger Marshall of Kansas, who ran and won their seats in 2020. Their major campaign contributors included corporate political action committees, which collect and distribute employee contributions, based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Here are some examples:
An Exxon Mobil PAC contributed $10,000 to Ms. Lummis. In a statement to DealBook, the company said “we congratulate President-elect Biden on his election.” Ms. Lummis also received money from a U.S. Chamber of Commerce PAC. The trade association congratulated Mr. Biden on Nov. 7. It did not respond to a request for comment.
A Chevron PAC donated $10,000 to Mr. Daines. The company acknowledged in a written statement that it “engages with many people and organizations that take positions” that are “not always aligned with all their views,” and said it looks forward to “engaging with President-elect Biden and his team.”
Mr. Daines and Mr. Marshall received $10,000 each from a Goldman Sachs PAC. The bank has warned that sowing doubt about the orderly transfer of power threatens the economy. It did not respond to a request for comment.
Apollo Global Management’s PAC contributed $10,000 to Mr. Hagerty. The firm did not respond to a request for comment.
The challenge isn’t expected to delay the inauguration on Jan. 20, but it turns a routine process into a political showdown. Those who spoke up against the move did so in stark terms:
“The voters have spoken,” said Republican senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Mitt Romney of Utah, in a statement also signed by some Democratic colleagues. “Congress must now fulfill its responsibility to certify the election results.”
Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking Republican, circulated a 21-page memo to House colleagues explaining why the move sets an “exceptionally dangerous precedent.”
The former House speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, said in a statement that the challenges “strike at the foundation of our republic,” adding that “it is difficult to conceive of a more anti-democratic and anti-conservative act.”
All 10 living former defense secretaries wrote in a joint op-ed that “the time for questioning the results has passed.”
The rebellion could affect future corporate donations. In a new ad, the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump Republican group, accused Mr. Cruz and Mr. Hawley — as well as Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who have promoted the president’s election fraud contentions but haven’t committed to the certification challenge — of attempting to suppress millions of votes, and called out “the corporate America titans who are funding them,” naming AT&T, Charles Schwab and Citigroup. If that creates reputational issues, companies may think twice about donations to challengers in 2022 — and beyond.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
The Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford goes into use. Britain began inoculations with the shot, which has also received emergency approval in India. Scientists are increasingly immersed in debates about vaccination policy, including whether to delay booster doses to give more first shots faster.