Two stories in the news today involve money in politics, one surprisingly positive and hopeful, the other, not so much. What do we learn from each?
Listen to the article:
The Hill reports that all but one of the Republicans in Congress who voted to impeach President Donald Trump in January are outpacing their primary election challengers in the money-raising sweepstakes. Some by a long shot.
In fact, two of Trump's most outspoken GOP critics in the House of Representatives, Rep. Liz Cheney (WY) and Adam Kinzinger (IL) are swamping their primary opponents, as is Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the only one of the seven GOP senators who voted to impeach who's facing reelection next year. Over the last three months, she's pulled in nearly $1.15 million, compared to $544,000 for Kelly Tshibaka, her Trump-backed opponent.
According to financial reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) Cheney, who was ousted as GOP Conference Chair in May because of her vote and criticism of Trump, raked in nearly $1.9 million, ending June with more than $2.8 million in her campaign coffers. One of her opponents, state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, raised $213,000 and another, state Rep. Chuck Gray, raised about $220,000.
Meanwhile, Kinzinger raised more than $800,000 in the three month period, bringing his total on hand to more than $3 million, and outraising his primary challengers.
The Hill reported that In Michigan’s 6th Congressional District, Rep.Fred Upton raised about $242,000 in the second quarter, more than twice as much as his closest rival, Steve Carra, who reported raising about $108,000.
And in Ohio’s 16th Congressional District, another pro-impeachment Republican, Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, out-raised his Trump-endorsed primary opponent, Max Miller, with $602,000 to Miller’s $443,000.
Only one GOP incumbent who voted to impeach Trump was out-raised in second-quarter fundraising: Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina, who brought in about $326,000 in the quarter. One of his challengers, conservative media personality Graham Allen, raised just over $500,000. Rice's explanation that Trump, "in my mind did what dictators do", hasn't gone over all that well with Trump loving Republicans in his district.
So, that was the positive news. What it says is that across the country, even in Republican strongholds, there are many in the GOP who don't buy Trump's Big Lie and instead support sense and reason rather than irresponsible, politically expedient claims that are harmful to our democracy.
The Bad News
But the bad news story showed up in The Washington Post, revealing that many of the companies who had pledged to pause or rethink political contributions after the Jan. 6 insurrection to those who voted against certifying President Biden's victory are now contributing to those lawmakers once again.
"The flow of money is a sign that the promises issued by corporate America were temporary, especially in light of razor-thin Democratic majorities," wrote The Post.
One of those companies was American Airlines, the world's largest by fleet size, which had said it would pause all donations from its Corporate PAC. “When we resume, we will ensure we focus on a bipartisan array of lawmakers who support U.S. aviation, airline workers and our values, including bringing people together,” spokeswoman Stacy Day said.
Apparently the fact that Rep, Sam Graves (R-MO) is the top Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and can have direct influence over issues important to the airline is more important than the fact that he opposed certification of the electoral college results in American Airlines' mind. The company gave him $2,500 on June 7, according to the FEC.
“While there is no lawmaker with whom we agree about every issue, we are committed to working with members of both parties to advance policies that will positively shape the future of our company, our team members and the communities we serve,” Day told The Post in an email.
More details from The Post's report:
"Health insurance giant Cigna vowed after Jan. 6 that it would no longer support elected officials who “hindered the peaceful transition of power.” But Cigna’s PAC gave at least $14,000 in recent months to Republicans who opposed certification of Biden’s win, including $5,000 to a PAC sponsored by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the No. 2 Republican in the House. Other beneficiaries of Cigna’s PAC who refused to accept the election results include Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Pat Fallon (R-Tex.) and Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), according to campaign committee reports covering the second quarter of the year.
"Aflac, which paused its PAC’s donations after Jan. 6, contributed more than $13,000 in June to four lawmakers who refused to accept the election results, according to an FEC filing this month. The Georgia-based insurance company directed contributions to Reps. Mike D. Rogers (R-Ala.), Tom Rice (R-S.C.), Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) and Bill Johnson (R-Ohio)."
Other companies that have resumed contributions to lawmakers who voted against Biden's election certification include the United Parcel Service, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and General Motors, The Post reported. Meanwhile, Toyota, facing consumer outcry over its support of Republican certification objectors, changed course, saying it will stop donating to those politicians.
So what does all of this mean? Probably not much -- except that Cheney, Kinzinger & Co. have shown that standing on principle can do more for you than kowtowing to Trump and his followers, and that the old ways of Washington and its big money influence are still with us today. Even an insurrection and attempted coup hasn't changed that.
What do you think?