Wall Street withdraws political donations after assault on Capitol Hill

Major Wall Street groups said they were suspending or reviewing political donations after last week assault on the US Capitol, although only a subset said they would target their actions against politicians whose opposition to the presidential election outcome contributed to the unrest.

JPMorgan Chase, the largest US lender by assets, is suspending all donations from its Political Action Committee (PAC) for six months. The bank said the “terrible events of the past week” have caused it to “re-evaluate” its political giving strategies to “ensure that we are supporting candidates who share our commitment to diversity, inclusiveness and a strong economy for all ”.

A spokeswoman declined to give details of how much she allegedly donated in a traditionally quiet time for fundraising.

Citigroup suspends all political contributions for three months, while Bank of America and Wells Fargo both review their political donations. Goldman Sachs is suspending all political contributions indefinitely, a spokesperson said, and asset management group BlackRock has said it is suspending and reviewing all donations.

Morgan Stanley indefinitely suspends contributions to Senators and Congressmen who voted against certify the results presidential election, said a person familiar with the bank’s decision.

And in a note to employees of American Express, Stephen Squeri, its chief executive, said attempts by some members of Congress to “reverse the presidential election process” did not match the card company’s values. credit, so his PAC would no longer support them.

The Amex PAC had not supported any of the senators who voted against the certification of the electoral college results, but it did contribute to the campaigns of 22 House Republicans who cast similar votes.

The American Bankers Association, an industry lobby that was the second largest donor of PAC to Senators who opposed the election result, said he would announce his plans later on Monday.

The fundraising maneuvers are Wall Street’s most public criticism of an administration many executives have denounced in private even as it boosted their bottom line through tax cuts and looser financial regulation.

Still, several banking insiders admitted that the impact of their actions would be minimal. “Now is really not the time to give,” said one, noting that the next congressional election will only take place in November 2022 and that donations are heavily concentrated in the last six months of the countryside. Another insider said their bank would “catch up” and give more later in the midterm election cycle, although the funds would be distributed to different candidates in light of the events of the past week.

Amounts granted through bank PACs are generally in the hundreds of thousands or low millions of dollars. The ABA’s contribution to Senators opposing the Electoral College outcome was just over $ 1.3 million according to research through the government transparency portal OpenSecrets.org.

In a note to staff, Candi Wolff, head of government affairs at Citi, said the bank had donated to only one of the “candidates who led the charge against the Electoral College certification.”

“We donated $ 1,000 in 2019 to the campaign of Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, which represents a state in which we have a significant employee presence,” she said.

“We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law. We intend to suspend our contributions during the quarter as the country goes through the presidential transition and hopefully emerges from these events stronger and more united.

JPMorgan said the bank believes that “participation in the political process is essential and we fully intend to continue supporting our PAC in the future – but it will look different”.

The actions taken by Wall Street banks echo an overhaul of political spending in American companies. A straw poll of more than 30 CEOs by the Yale School of Management last week found unanimous support for the political spending review.

Since then, companies such as Marriott, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Boston Scientific have said their PACs will suspend contributions. FedEx, the shipping company, said Monday it was “reviewing all future political contributions.”

Automaker Ford has announced that it is suspending new contributions, saying that “the events of the past year have underscored the need for a broader and ongoing discussion on other relevant considerations as it relates to our PAC employees.” .

Dow, the chemical company, said it was suspending PAC contributions to members of Congress who oppose certification of election results for a period of up to two years for members of the House of Representatives and up to ‘at six years for senators.

Bruce Freed, president of the Center for Political Accountability, said the wave of threats by companies to withdraw their contributions was unprecedented. “The risk really caught up with them,” he says.

But he added that contributions through PACs made up a small portion of the total political spending of Wall Street and large corporations, whose payments through trade associations and other funding bodies are not subject to tax. same disclosure requirements.

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