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Companies pause donations to GOP lawmakers: "A ripple effect"

CBSNews
·3 min read

Some of America's biggest corporations are distancing themselves from lawmakers following the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week. More than a dozen Fortune 500 companies have suspended political donations, and at least one is asking for money back from senators who cast doubt on the 2020 presidential election results..

Hallmark Cards Inc. asked Republican Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall for refunds Monday, stating the lawmakers' decisions to reject state-certified Electoral College votes "do not reflect our company's values." 

Hawley and Marshall received a combined $12,000 from the company. 

American Express announced to employees Monday that it would be withholding donations from lawmakers who voted "to subvert the presidential election results and disrupt the peaceful transition of power."

Other major firms like Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are going farther, saying they'll withhold all political contributions from members of both parties — chemical giant Dow doing so for at least two years.

"It's sending a ripple effect across all these campaigns because Donald Trump is radioactive," GOP consultant and CBS News political analyst Leslie Sanchez told CBS News' Ed O'Keefe. 

Sanchez said the corporate giving ban could hurt many Republican candidates.

"The question campaigns are asking themselves is, how long is this going to last and can they separate their campaign from the larger Republican Party and the aura that it has?" she said.

According to her conversations with top government relations executives, however, Sanchez said the giving ban is likely only temporary.

"Six months and nine months down the line, they expect those dollars to start flowing again," she said. "These are going to be based on individual relationships and not necessarily the party as a whole."

But CBS News political contributor Robby Mook, a Democratic Party consultant, thinks this is a bigger shift.

"This is part of a larger reckoning we're seeing in our society. Employees of these companies really care about what their leadership is doing, about what happens to this PAC money that they're donating," he said. "And we saw how this was transformational in sports, in entertainment — and I think we're going to start to see it in corporate America as it relates to politics as well."

Corporate America is also facing pressure when it comes to hiring President Trump's current and former spokespeople. White House press secretaries often go on to get high-profile jobs in the private sector — President Obama's, for example, went on to McDonalds, Amazon and United. 

However, Forbes magazine editor Randall Lane argues those who spoke for Mr. Trump will face a different landscape.

If top companies hire them, Lane said, his magazine "will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie."

"There's no way that we can look at our readers and say these are people we can trust in the private sector now to give accurate information," he said.

The Professional Golf Association is also distancing itself from the U.S. Capitol fallout, saying it will not play the PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey next year. 

ViacomCBS, which owns CBS News and carries the golf tournament, had no immediate comment on their giving plans.