Election objectors in Congress received more than $61 million from corporate PACs and industry trade groups in the 2022 cycle

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks during a news conference with House Republicans about U.S.-Mexico border policy outside the U.S. Capitol on March 11, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Corporate PACs and industry trade groups poured more than $61 million into the leadership PACs and campaigns of election objectors during the 2022 election cycle, a new OpenSecrets analysis found. 

In addition to more than $52 million campaign contributions, business PACs poured another $9 million into leadership PACs affiliated with those members of Congress who voted against the certification of 2020 election results amid the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021.

In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack, scores of private companies pledged to stop or reevaluate PAC giving to election objectors. But several corporations resumed PAC giving to Congress’ so-called “Sedition Caucus” within a month of the attack on the Capitol, and even started steering money to those members over the course of the 2022 election cycle. 

The business PACs that contributed most to election objectors were trade associations including the National Association of Realtors with $861,000 to 127 members of what critics have dubbed the “Sedition Caucus.” 

The National Association of Realtors confirmed in the statement to OpenSecrets that its independent REALTOR Political Action Committee paused all federal political disbursements in January 2021 but that the pause was lifted several months later “to ensure the association could engage in a nonpartisan way on behalf of members and consumers.”

REALTOR Political Action Committee disbursement committee chair Patti Hill emphasized in the statement that the PAC is “the largest nonpartisan political action committee operated on behalf of a trade association in the United States,” and that its contributions to candidates in 2020 federal races were split about evenly between Democrats and Republicans. The PAC’s 2022 giving has followed a similar pattern with roughly half of federal political contributions going to Democrats as of its most recent FEC filing. 

Other top business PAC funders of election objectors’ include the National Beer Wholesalers Association with $744,500 to 121 members and the American Bankers Association with $668,500 to 110 members. Corporate PACs affiliated with AT&T Inc. and Koch Industries also contributed more than $500,000 to election objectors’ campaigns during the 2022 cycle include.

Other major companies resuming corporate PAC donations to election objectors include Goldman Sachs, Amazon, General Motors, Lockheed Martin and Boeing

While ideological and partisan groups poured substantial sums into tight races, corporate money was more concentrated in safer races with incumbents. 

Seven individual members of Congress who voted to reject the certification of the 2020 election received more than $1 million each in corporate PAC contributions, OpenSecrets’ new analysis found.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was the top recipient of contributions from trade groups and corporate PACs. Business PACs gave McCarthy’s campaign committee and leadership PAC more than $2.1 million during the 2022 election cycle with $1.2 million of that going to his campaign committee and $868,000 going to McCarthy’s leadership PAC, the Majority Committee PAC

McCarthy’s campaign received donations totaling $10,000 from 63 trade groups and corporate PACs, including Northop Grumman, American Airlines and Chevron. McCarthy also received $10,000 in contributions from Comcast Corp., which was among the dozens of companies that initially suspended contributions to election objectors after the Jan. 6 attack.

Top 2022 cycle donors to McCarthy’s leadership PAC included Fedex Corp, Exxon Mobil and Home Depot.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) received more campaign contributions from business PACs than any election objector other than the House Minority Leader. Luetkemeyer, who won reelection to an eighth term in Congress Tuesday, accumulated more than $1.6 million in contributions from PACs affiliated with corporations and trade groups with about $1.2 million of that going to his campaign. 

Including leadership PACs, Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) is the second biggest recipient of business PAC contributions during the 2022 cycle with about $1 million in campaign contributions and about $941,000 more going to his leadership PAC.

Other House election objectors who received more than $1 million in campaign contributions from corporate PACs include Reps. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and Adrian Smith (R-Neb.).

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) took in more campaign contributions from business PACs than any other election objector in the U.S. Senate, with PACs affiliated with corporations and business trade groups steering about $720,000 to his campaign. Kennedy received campaign contributions totalling $10,000 from 13 contributors, including Chevron Corp, Altria Group, Home Depot and Koch Industries. Kennedy was the sole election objector up for reelection in the Senate in 2022, winning in a landslide.

Business PACs contributed a total of $8.8 million to leadership PACs affiliated with 110 election objectors in Congress. 

An analysis of election results by OpenSecrets found that more than 92% of the 124 election objectors in the House who ran for reelection were successful, with just three election objectors losing Republican primaries, two being defeated in the general election and four others in races too close to call as of Nov. 14.

Committees Researcher Andrew Mayersohn contributed to this report.