For years, Wall Street, and Corporate America more broadly, were willing to put up with President Trump’s often erratic behavior because he delivered the tax cuts, deregulation and tariff reforms they wanted.
But last week’s deadly attack on the Capitol in which mobs of his supporters stormed the heart of American democracy, egged on by the departing President and some of his allies in Congress, as lawmakers sought to ratify the victory of President-elect Joe Biden, was a step too far.
Now, some large corporations, like hotel operator Marriott International and insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield are halting donations to Republican lawmakers who sought to disrupt the certification of Biden’s victory. Others, notably Wall Street giants Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan are temporarily halting political donations altogether.
“We will not support candidates who do not support the law,” Citi head of global government affairs Candi Wolff told staff in an internal memo, according to media reports. The bank’s political action committee will however pause all contributions for a few months, not just to the Republican lawmakers in question.
JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, and Goldman Sachs will also suspend PAC donations to all candidates for the next six months, CNBC and Bloomberg both reported, citing spokespersons at both companies. Bank of America and Wells Fargo are still reviewing their PACs.
(PAC’s allow companies to give money directly to candidates by pooling voluntary employee donations up to $5,000 to a candidate per election.)
But notably absent from most corporations’ statements about the assault on the Capitol or their PAC donations is any specific mention of Trump himself or his role in riling up his supporters and instructing them to go to the Capitol. That earned brickbats from former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who said in interviews with various media outlets this week that Wall Street has too often tried to have it both ways.
“He was delivering what ‘we’ wanted. We put a clothespin on our nose. We weren’t ignorant of the kind of risks we were taking. We repressed them,” Blankfein, a frequent Trump critic on Twitter, told the New York Times this weekend.
But corporations have long been hesitant to take on the president too directly, lest they anger his sizable base of supporters and become the target of his ire.
Last week, the Business Roundtable, a group of 200 top American CEOs including those of the major Wall Street firms, lamented the attempts to overturn the vote and the violence at the Capitol but stopped short of mentioning Trump. In contrast, the National Association of Manufacturers’ statement was impassioned and called for Trump’s immediate removal from office.
In other corners of Corporate America, there was more decisive action to limit Trump’s ability to communicate with supporters. Last week, Twitter banned Trump permanently, Facebook suspended him and Shopify stopped providing the tech to power his e-commerce sites. As for conservative social network Parler, Apple and Google removed it from their app stores until it beefs up its moderating, while Amazon stopped providing cloud support, moves that together have effectively pushed Parler off the internet for now.
Some companies barring PAC donations to either party and their candidates:
- Goldman Sachs
- JP Morgan
- Ford Motor Co
Companies stopping donations only to members of Congress who opposed the Electoral College certification of Biden:
- Morgan Stanley
- Marriott International
- Blue Cross Blue Shield
Companies reviewing their PAC donation policies:
- Wells Fargo
- American Express
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