Corporate Backers Reevaluate Donations To Carter, Other Objectors
Top Georgia companies as well as U.S. pharmaceutical and medical firms that count among Rep. Buddy Carter’s leading campaign donors are re-evaluating their association with politicians like the Pooler Republican in the wake of last week’s upheaval on Capitol Hill.
Carter, who has represented Coastal Georgia since 2015, is the third-richest lawmaker in the lower chamber. Between 2019-2020 he raised more than $2.5 million in campaign contributions, mainly from healthcare and medical political action committees as well as companies with local ties, like Southern Company, parent of Georgia Power, and General Dynamics, which has its subsidiary Gulfstream based in Savannah.
At least 10 of Carter’s former corporate donors are among the wave of companies rethinking their political donations that lubricate the American political system. Carter joined 147 congressional leaders to oppose the peaceful transition of presidential power from President Donald Trump to President-elect Joe Biden.
Carter said his vote was based on constitutional concerns, not over who won the election. But baseless and inflammatory rhetoric fanned by Trump that the election was stolen from him motivated the mob that ransacked the Capitol and disrupted American democracy.
Trump has denied any responsibility for the attack and or that anything he has said moved the mob to violence.
In a statement to The Current Wednesday, Carter said his political decisions would not be swayed by corporate donors’ decisions. “That decision is up to the companies. I don’t work for them, I work for the people of the First District of Georgia,” he said.
In a statement on the House floor Wednesday morning, Carter reiterated his opposition to the violent chaos which left five people dead. He also was vehement in his opposition to impeaching Trump.
Among the organizations issuing the strongest condemnations was the biotech trade group BIO, whose members want to take a stand against the inflammatory lies and debunked conspiracies propagated by Trump and his passionate followers.
“As of today BIO will be pausing our political giving so we can reassess the criteria upon which we support political candidates in the future,” president and CEO Michelle McMurry-Heath said in the statement. “One of the five new strategic pillars that BIO announced last fall is to be the voice of and for science and at its core science is the search for truth based on evidence. So it is very concerning that some elected leaders last week chose to ignore facts and embrace widely discredited conspiracies which in part led to the horrific events at the Capitol.”
PhRMA, the drug industry trade group known for aggressive campaign spending, said it would pause contributions specifically to candidates who voted against certifying President-elect Biden’s Electoral College win.
“The actions that took place violate the values of our nation and the values held by America’s biopharmaceutical research companies,” Stephen Ubl, PhRMA’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “That is why we are pausing political giving to those who voted to reject the outcome of the election.”
Other biotech companies and industry groups halting and re-evaluating their political donations are drug manufacturers Amgen and Gilead Sciences and medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific.
Dow chemical company, another Carter donor, said it would cut off donations to lawmakers who voted against certifying the election for the entire two-year terms of the House members involved and the six-year terms of senators.
Southern Company denounced the violence at the Capitol last week and announced it was reviewing its donations.
“The dangerous, violent actions at the U.S. Capitol last week undermine the very essence of what we stand for as a nation,” said spokesman Schuyler Baehman. “Our belief in government, respect for the democratic process and adherence to the rule of law always have been at the core of our engagement. We are constantly evaluating our efforts to ensure they are informed by those ideals and adhere to the uncompromising values we follow as a business – honesty, respect, fairness, integrity and the value of diversity. We will discontinue support for any official or organization that does not act in a manner consistent with these values.”
Other Georgia companies that have halted all political donations include Coca-Cola and UPS, as has Marriott. All three are previous Carter corporate donors.
Leading business groups such as the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce all condemned the political brinkmanship by Republican congressmen saying the maneuver threatened American democracy and national security.
At least one American company, greeting card maker Hallmark, asked for refunds of their donations from two GOP senators who led the pro-Trump revolt in Congress, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Roger Marshall of Kansas, return their PAC donations.“Hallmark believes the peaceful transition of power is part of the bedrock of our democratic system, and we abhor violence of any kind,” Hallmark spokeswoman JiaoJiao Shen said in a statement.
This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with The Current, providing non-partisan, solutions-based investigative journalism without bias, fear or favor with clear focus on issues affecting Savannah and Coastal Georgia