Walmart, much of corporate America, suspends political funding to certain members of Congress

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 2,152 views 

Walmart and dozens of U.S. companies such as JPMorgan, Disney and AT&T have said they will suspend political contributions to members of Congress who voted against the certification of state electoral college votes.

The move comes after the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol last week and ongoing claims by the Trump Administration of voter fraud. A total of 147 Republicans voted against the election of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory and now face political consequences from corporate America. Walmart said the company routinely examines and adjusts its political giving strategy at the end of every election cycle and this review will continue for the next few months.

“However, in light of last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, Walmart’s political action committee is indefinitely suspending contributions to those members of Congress who voted against the lawful certification of state electoral college votes,” Walmart said in a statement shared with Talk Business & Politics.

The retail giant made roughly $4.8 million in political contributions in 2019. Walmart also made donations of $6.4 million to lobbying groups that same year. Open Secrets reports Donald Trump was the largest single recipient of Walmart donations in 2019. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon was also named chairman of Trump’s Business Roundtable in January 2020 to serve a two-year term, replacing Jamie Dimon who remained an active member following his three-year term. McMillon said recently he and the company will seek to work with the Biden Administration going forward. He said there is much work to do to repair the social injustice and bridge the economic gap across America.

Springdale-based Tyson Foods said it is halting all lobbying spending pending a review.

“We are temporarily suspending all political action committee activity while we review and consider the events of the past week,” the company noted in a statement.

Speaking virtually at the National Retail Federation annual conference on Wednesday, Dimon reiterated McMillon’s sentiment. He called the riot event at the Capitol last week “unacceptable at any level.”

“Let’s come together in civil discourse and try to solve these problems … 4,000 people a day are dying from COVID-19, 40% of people in this country earn $15 an hour or less and 50% of them don’t have health insurance. Inequality is still a huge problem in this country. Some 90 million people are still going to work every day and their finances are good, maybe better. Poor folks continue to suffer the most and this time is no different. Many don’t have computers to help with schooling at work from home, they lack insurance and many have lost their jobs in this crisis. They needed the stimulus to survive and they are going to need more,” Dimon said.

Dimon said business needs to be involved because when businesses, large and small, are successful it creates a stronger economy that in turn helps everyone. He said the U..S is still the greatest democracy in the world, but by nature, democracy requires compromise, something he said leaders in Washington have forgotten.

Dimon said in the spring the early work to get the $2.2 trillion CARES Act approved was great but it took the rest of the year to get out a much smaller package and still more help is needed. McMillon has also called for more stimulus for the American people saying the rise in cases was putting more pressure on small businesses that had already suffered from the pandemic.

“As various governments around the country tighten up to help keep people healthy, it will be imperative that elected officials in Washington work together to deliver the help so many businesses need to get through this next phase of the pandemic,” McMillon said during the company’s earnings call in early November.

At that time, McMillon congratulated President-elect Biden for his victory saying, “We look forward to working with the administration and both houses of Congress to move the country forward.”

Walmart competitors Target, Amazon, Best Buy and CVS have joined the move to suspend political funding for those who didn’t vote to certify the Biden win. Disney, Google, Facebook, Coca-Cola, AT&T, Ford, Hallmark, Smithfield and Hormel, and dozens of other companies that do business with Walmart are also joining the movement.

Alan Ellstrand, associate dean for programs and research at the University of Arkansas, said this is corporate America exercising its voice against the events of the last few days. He said the move to pull funding is designed to grab their attention and say “enough is enough.” He said Walmart has been a thought leader and they didn’t make this decision lightly.

“It looks as if these companies are sending the message that this cannot continue. They are providing legislators with the fuel to make change happen through their donations and the result has been unacceptable,” Ellstrand said. “Companies take some risk in choosing sides but this time it seems most of corporate America is following the mainstream sentiment, perhaps letting their money do the talking as their rhetoric has failed.”