UPDATED with ViacomCBS statement: Nearly two weeks after the Capitol siege prompted a host of companies to suspend political contributions to those opposing the certifying of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, ViacomCBS has joined the list.
“ViacomCBS supports peaceful civic engagement and the orderly transition of power in the democratic process,” the company said in a statement. “We therefore condemn the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol, and have paused contributions from our political action committee to members of Congress who voted against certification of the 2020 U.S. Electoral College results.”
PREVIOUSLY, January 11 PM: AT&T, the parent company of WarnerMedia, and Comcast, parent company of NBCUniversal, are the latest corporations to halt political contributions to lawmakers who objected to the certification of the electoral vote last week in favor of Joe Biden, an event that was at the center of the siege of the Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump.
“Employees on our Federal PAC Board convened a call today and decided to suspend contributions to members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of Electoral College votes this week,” AT&T said in a statement.
Comcast said that the “peaceful transition of power is a foundation of America’s democracy. This year, that transition will take place among some of the most challenging conditions in modern history and against the backdrop of the appalling violence we witnessed at the U.S. Capitol last week. At this crucial time, our focus needs to be on working together for the good of the entire nation. Consistent with this view, we will suspend all of our political contributions to those elected officials who voted against certification of the electoral college votes, which will give us the opportunity to review our political giving policies and practices.”
Eight Republican senators and 139 House members voted against certifying Biden’s win, even in the aftermath of the riots at the Capitol.
Corporate PACs can give a maximum of $2,800 to each candidate per election, and $5,000 to a party committee. The senators who voted against certification include Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY).
The political action committees at AT&T and Comcast join those at Marriott, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Dow Chemical and American Express in halting the political contributions. Other companies are suspending all political contributions, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.
The decisions to suspend or end donations reflects the concerns atop corporations over the attack and its threat to the stability of democracy. Companies, facing pressure from employees, shareholder groups and customers, increasingly have weighed in on major political moments, including the protests that followed the death of George Floyd last summer and the Charlottesville unrest in 2017.
But the suspension of political contributions is a step farther, as corporations are making a statement via fundraising channels and not merely as a P.R. announcement.