A handful of congressional Republicans — the most outspoken supporters of groundless election-related claims that helped inspire the Jan. 6 mob attack on the Capitol — shattered their fundraising performances from two years earlier.
Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Ted Cruz (Tex.) each pulled in more than $3 million. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), whose extreme views prompted a House vote in February that stripped her of committee assignments, raised more than $3.2 million. That earned her the second-highest fundraising haul among House Republicans, behind only Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), who also opposed certifying President Biden’s electoral win.
Several other Republicans who built national profiles as hard-line Trump loyalists also posted banner fundraising hauls.
In total, a dozen GOP election objectors raised at least $1 million each. Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), now facing a federal investigation into possible sex trafficking, raised $1.8 million; Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), who like Gaetz proved one of Trump’s most reliable defenders on Fox News, collected $2.1 million. A pair of bombastic freshmen — Reps. Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), who raised $1 million, and Lauren Boebert (Colo.), who raised $846,000 — leapfrogged the vast majority of their colleagues by rallying individual donors.
Taken together, the results from the first quarter offer a view of a Republican Party increasingly alienated from the corporate class it once counted on as a stalwart ally. The deadly riot at the Capitol repulsed business leaders already wary of the GOP’s transformation under President Donald Trump. And the party’s fastest-rising stars remain unapologetic for stoking the false claims of a stolen election that led to the insurrection. Instead, they are shunning support from business in favor of individual donors Trump helped activate.
Corporate interests and other traditional conservative donors have rallied to the handful of Republicans moving to banish the former president. House Republicans who have drawn primary challenges after voting to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 attack outpaced their opposition in the first quarter, according to a review by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research group. House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the most prominent among them, collected $1.5 million.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), who has launched a super PAC to support anti-Trump Republicans, raised $1.1 million, his highest-ever quarterly total.
“There were a lot of people who wrote the 10 of us off after we did this,” Kinzinger said of the House Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment. “I think the fact that all of us had great quarters shows that if you do the right thing, there’s a constituency out there that will support it.”
Republicans with an outsize media presence and a rising profile among small donors may not have registered the snub from big businesses. But a number of industry-friendly lawmakers, who once leveraged posts on top committees to rake in corporate contributions, saw their fundraising drop dramatically.
“It’s their money, and it’s their right to do whatever they chose to do,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), whose first-quarter collections cratered from $147,000 in 2019 to $42,000 this year after voting against certifying Biden’s victory. “But I think people tend to remember something like that, so we’ll see what happens.”
Several corporate interests that pledged at least to rethink their political activity after the attack on the Capitol, including Toyota, Cigna, JetBlue and the National Association of Realtors, already have restarted giving to some Republican election objectors.
Toyota said in a statement it would not withhold contributions from lawmakers “solely based on their votes” on certifying the election. Cigna said its “new standard applies to those who incited violence or actively sought” to disrupt the presidential transition. JetBlue and the Realtors lobby signaled in statements that the events around the Capitol attack will no longer bear on their political giving.
Other companies appear to have end-run their own pledges by cutting checks to groups that have provided critical support to the lawmakers in past campaigns. Intel, for example, donated to the National Republican Congressional Committee, and AT&T contributed to the House Conservatives Fund, as the newsletter Popular Info first reported.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce helped open the door for such moves. In a March memo, the big-business lobby said it would draw a distinction between Republicans who voted against certifying the election and “those who engaged and continue to engage in repeated actions that undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions.”
Cole, a former political consultant and past chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said some PAC directors for companies that have sworn off donations to the 147 Republicans have told him they are looking for an opportunity to reopen the spigot. Those executives have him they “wanted to make a statement, but they know long-term who works with them and who doesn’t.”
A Democratic push for raising corporate taxes to help fund infrastructure spending — which Republicans are expected to oppose — could force the issue, Cole said. “I don’t see a long-term change in giving patterns,” he said. In the meantime, “most people raise a lot more money from sources other than PACs, so it’s not as damaging as it would have been a few years ago.”
Some top House Republicans are encouraging their colleagues to embrace a small-donor strategy. They argue Republicans can burnish their populist credentials by shunning corporate support. Rep. Jim Banks (Ind.), who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee, points to his own success replacing corporate PAC support he lost after the Capitol attack, including from Indiana-based drugmaker Eli Lilly.
“Once my supporters learned that liberal corporations blacklisted me because I refused to cave to their demands on January 6th, they were happy to make up the difference,” Banks wrote in a lengthy memo sent to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in late March.
Marianna Sotomayor and Aaron Gregg contributed to this report.