John Avlon opened his Reality Check segment today with these words of wisdom: "If you want to find out what's really going on, follow the money."
"That's why the decision by some major corporate donors to stop supporting the 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the election is sill sending shock waves through Washington," Avlon said.
"This is the kind of consequence members of Congress pay attention to. Because cutting off their money matters more to some of them than the ethics of their decisions. Political action committees associated with roughly 280 companies contributed $21 million to Republicans who objected to counting the electoral college votes. Five of those members hauled in more than a half million dollars from these corporate PACs before the attack, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, and Elise Stefanik.
"Smaller corporate donations also flowed to congressmen who have been linked to the Stop The Steal movement, including Scott Perry, Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks and Paul Gosar. No one thought they were giving money to people who supported sedition, said JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Turns out some of them were. CNN reached out to see which companies decided to take a stand.
"A hundred and twenty companies have decided to pause or end political donations in some form since the attack. Twelve said they would continue political donations as normal. They apparently see all of this as an extension of politics as usual. It's not. But the real accountability comes from the 33 companies that are specifically suspending donations to the Seditious 147, either through the 2020 cycle or indefinitely. These companies include at any time, CNN's parent, Comcast, Amazon, Walmart, General Electric, Alphabet, and Verizon. This should have an impact.
"It's probably the only form of punishment they'll care about other than getting rejected by voters. And most represent safe seats without competitive general elections. Remember, this all happened because the incentive structure in our politics is so screwed up that 147 Republicans thought it would be easier to go along with Trump's big lie rather than do what's right. But sometimes money talks when other attempts at reason fail. Just look at how quick many right-wing media organizations retracted their repeated but baseless claims of voter fraud when threats of lawsuits came calling.
"The stark reality of extremism has caused big business to rethink its approach to politics. For example, the Chamber of Commerce is supporting President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill. That's a big deal. But there's always the possibility that some of these companies are just waiting for the heat to pass. They're betting on forgetting. And already, we're seeing desperate attempts from some politicians to turn the page and resist accountability. You'll hear some conservatives explain they're experiencing cancel culture because of the freeze on their donations.
"Don't buy it. This isn't punishing political speech. This is about defending democracy. And that's your reality check."