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Home Depot now the biggest corporate donor to 2020 election objectors, analysis finds

·Senior Producer and Writer
·5 min read

After Donald Trump’s supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, a host of major corporations vowed to halt donations to Republicans who objected to certifying Joe Biden as president-elect that night.

Somewhat predictably, the corporate backsliding began within months with groups like Accountable.US tracking the giving ever since. Well, the latest numbers are in.

Home Depot (HD) became the new leader through the end of February thanks to a surge of $140,000 last month alone. The company has now reportedly donated $265,000 in total to these lawmakers, dubbed the "Sedition Caucus" by political opponents. All told, 48 of the 147 lawmakers in this group have received money from the company’s PAC.

“No corporation can truly claim to be on the side of democracy while they throw money at the election objectors in Congress who tried to finish what violent insurrectionists started,” Accountable.US president Kyle Herrig said in a statement after the latest numbers came out.

TOPSHOT - Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. - Thousands of Trump supporters, fueled by his spurious claims of voter fraud, flooded the nation's capital protesting the expected certification of Joe Biden's White House victory by the US Congress. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Donald Trump's supporters clashed with police and security forces as they storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

The tally from Herrig’s group includes donations from industry and trade groups and finds that, all in, organizations have given over $11.5 million over the last 14 months. Home Depot is third overall with the top two givers being the American Bankers Association PAC ($327,500) and the National Beer Wholesalers Association Political Action Committee ($266,000).

‘Candidates on both sides of the aisle who champion pro-business, pro-retail positions’

Home Depot’s political action committee has donated almost $2.125 million to candidates this election cycle with candidates of both parties receiving money, according to Federal Elections Commission data.

"Our associate-funded PAC supports candidates on both sides of the aisle who champion pro-business, pro-retail positions that create jobs and economic growth," a Home Depot spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.

That spokesperson said Home Depot is also one of the largest donors to members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the New Democrat Coalition, a gathering of centrist lawmakers. Home Depot's recent ESG report notes diversity alliances with groups the Congressional Black Caucus foundation and the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute.

The logo of Down Jones Industrial Average stock market index listed company Home Depot is seen in Encinitas, California April 4, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Blake
A Home Depot outlet in Encinitas, California. (REUTERS/Mike Blake)

Still, it appears that Home Depot's contributions to election objectors jumped in recent years. Accountable.US looked at Home Depot’s giving in February 2018 and February 2020 and found that giving to these 147 lawmakers has jumped compared to the same point in previous election cycles.

Over the last 14 months, Home Depot has been buffeted from all sides of the political debate. The Georgia-based company also faced pressure as its home state considered a restrictive voting law that opponents argue disenfranchises Black and Hispanic voters. Home Depot told the Washington Post it was “aligned” with those raising concerns about the law but said it didn't oppose the proposed voting restrictions themselves.

Home Depot also faced a conservative backlash in recent days after a Canadian branch posted a notice to employees on the subject of white privilege. The company has said the flyer in question was specific to the Canadian store and not officially sanctioned as “part of any required company-wide training.”

For his part, Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone called the riots a “disgrace” and criticized the 147 Republican members who voted against finalizing Biden’s victory. “I don’t know what the hell they had in their mind, frankly,” he said. “What was it, a grandstand play?”

Continued focus on the issue

An ever-evolving landscape of companies have been named the top political donor to the 147 election objectors. Six months in, it was the aerospace and defense company General Dynamics (GD). Then, by Jan. 6, 2022, Boeing (BA) became the top donor. Neither company promised to stop the donations, though Boeing encouraged lawmakers “to work with President-elect Biden to unify our nation” on Jan. 7, 2021.

Companies have struggled to find a balance on these donations. In one notable example, Toyota (TM) made headlines for continuing donations to election objectors early on before abruptly announcing last July it was stopping the practice.

Despite reluctance of companies like Toyota to continue donating to those Republicans, OpenSecrets recently found election objectors are among the top fundraisers among Republicans heading into mid-terms.

TOPSHOT - Damage is seen inside the US Capitol building early on January 7, 2021 in Washington, DC, after supporters of US President Donald Trump breeched security and entered the building during a session of Congress. - Donald Trump's supporters stormed a session of Congress held today, January 6, to certify Joe Biden's election win, triggering unprecedented chaos and violence at the heart of American democracy and accusations the president was attempting a coup. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
Damage inside the Capitol building early on January 7, 2021. (OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

"The way that has played out over the past year has not been necessarily in line with what all of the companies promised," Anna Massoglia, investigative researcher at the group, put it during a Yahoo Finance appearance in January.

Another January report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) pegged the total giving higher because it counts donations directly to lawmakers as well as the money flowing to their leadership PACs and party committees. The group says 717 corporations and industry groups sent a full $18 million towards these members of Congress in the year since the insurrection.

CREW also more recently spotlighted three companies — Capital One (COF), Cox Enterprises, and Exelon (EXC) — that stopped giving in the immediate aftermath but recently restarted their donations.

Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.

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