CEOs, Political Contributions, & the Brand

After watching the MAGA insurrection on live television, Corporate America is rethinking its political donations.

Let’s be blunt about it: businesses have to decide if they support democracy or not.

CEOs Issue Statements

The CEOs of many of our largest companies are speaking out on Twitter:

  • “Our elected leaders must stand together to support democracy, accept this free and fair election and bring to justice the perpetrators of today’s violent assault on our country. As Americans we must stand in support of our democratic values and the leaders who uphold them.” – Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture
  • “The lawlessness and violence occurring on Capitol Hill today is the antithesis of democracy and we strongly condemn it.” – Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet
  • “I am deeply saddened by the events that took place in Washington, D.C. yesterday. … The U.S. democratic process and the rule of law must not be allowed to be disrupted.” – Bob Bradway, CEO of Amgen
  • “I have faith that our democratic institutions and the principles upon which they were founded will prevail and that we will get through this together.” – Stephen J. Squeri, CEO of American Express
  • “It’s especially when they are challenged that our ideals matter most.” – Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
  • “We applaud all those who stood strong to thwart an appalling insurrection bent on blocking the peaceful transfer of power following a free and fair election.” – John Stanley, CEO of AT&T
  • “We must move forward together peacefully, respectfully and with a singular, shared focus on our American ideals.” – Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America
  • “I condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence at our Capitol today. This is an assault on our nation, our democracy, and the will of the American people.” – Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock
  • “Our company has a long history of working with elected officials over many years. In the spirit of bipartisanship, we encourage them to work with President-elect Biden to unify our nation.” – David Calhoun, CEO of Boeing
  • “The violent attacks and protests that occurred at the U.S. Capitol and several states yesterday marked a dark and sad day for our country and served to threaten the foundation of the nation’s democracy.” – Mike Mahoney, CEO of Boston Scientific Group, and Wendy Carruthers, SVP of Human Resources at Boston Scientific Group
  • “We call for the peaceful transition of the U.S. government. The violence in Washington, D.C. tarnishes a two-century tradition of respect for the rule of law. We look forward to engaging with President-Elect Biden and his administration to move the nation forward.” – Chevron
  • “As citizens of our great nation, all of us have a responsibility to speak out against and condemn in the strongest terms the violence and display of demagoguery we witnessed in our nation’s capital yesterday. This is not who we are as a nation and our democracy must be protected.” – Evan G. Greenberg, CEO of Chubb
  • “We’ll get through this challenging time in our history if we stay true to the values that have guided our nation since its beginning. The peaceful transfer of power is one of those values.” –David Cordani, CEO of Cigna
  • “The United States has long served as a beacon of democracy, and today we are reminded of both its importance and fragility.” – Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco
  • “I have faith in our democratic process and know that the important work of Congress will continue and that people will be held accountable for their actions.” – Michael Corbat, CEO of Citi
  • “Cognizant CEO, Brian Humphries, joined fellow members of the Business Roundtable in support of a peaceful transition of power.” – Cognizant
  • Cummins Inc. shared the Business Roundtable statement.
  • “This attempted subversion of our democracy is an attack against us all, and we must stand together, united, in the defense of our values and our country.” – Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Technologies
  • “The events we all witnessed this afternoon, with the storming of the US Capitol, represent a sad and embarrassing moment. But our great country is far stronger than the abhorrent actions of those who engaged in this conduct.” – Joe Ucozoglu, CEO of Deloitte US, and Janet Foutty, Chair of Deloitte US
  • “Today’s scenes at the U.S. Capitol are an attack on democracy and not who we are as a country. Before all else, we are Americans. The challenges we face require us to come together, urgently. To those leaders upholding their oath and our nation’s ideals — we stand with you.” – Jim Fitterling, CEO of Dow
  • “Watching this on TV from Australia evokes memories of my lived experiences in emerging economies with coups, brawls in parliament and street violence. The US is our beacon for freedom and democratic principles. It’s tragic to see what’s happening now.” – Andrew N. Liveris, former CEO of Dow
  • “The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden.” – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
  • “We commit to working together, with respect and empathy, to uphold core American values…” – Jim Farley, CEO of Ford Motor Company
  • “The peaceful transition of power is a cornerstone of American democracy, and regardless of politics the violence at the U.S. Capitol does not reflect who we are as a nation.” – Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors
  • “Recently, we have squandered that goodwill at an alarming pace, and today’s attack on the U.S. Capitol does further damage. It’s time for all Americans to come together and move forward with a peaceful transition of power.” – David M. Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs
  • “Growing up in Spain, I know firsthand that the world has always looked at the United States as a beacon of freedom and democracy … Today’s chaos in our nation’s capitol violates the very idea on which America was built.” – Enrique Lores, CEO of HP
  • “May we all quickly find a way for a peaceful dialogue and a better way forward. Our country is better than this.” – Antonio Neri, CEO of HPE
  • “IBM condemns today’s unprecedented lawlessness and we call for it to end immediately.” – Arvind Krishna, Chairman and CEO of IBM
  • “A peaceful transfer of power is an essential part of democracy, and there is no justification for the use of violence to undermine free elections. We all deserve better.” – Francis deSouza, CEO of Illumina
  • “At Intel we condemn all acts of violence and attempts to unlawfully disrupt a democratic process that has long been a model for the world.” – Bob Swan, CEO of Intel
  • “On a day which should have seen a step in the peaceful transfer of power in the United States, we were instead confronted by disturbing images of violence and hate, stoked by divisiveness and disinformation.” – Philippe Krakowsky, CEO of Interpublic Group
  • “As an American, as a colleague to tens of thousands of Johnson & Johnson employees in the country, and as a U.S. military veteran who served overseas to protect our democracy, I’m devastated by this assault on what our country has stood for since its founding: free, fair and peaceful elections.” – Alex Gorsky, Chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson
  • “This is not who we are as a people or a country. We are better than this.” – Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase
  • “Earlier today, the U.S. Congress certified the election results, a powerful symbol of the value of free, fair and peaceful elections that are so central to the fabric of America. Yesterday’s violence at the Capitol building in Washington — the very symbolic place that’s meant to preserve it — runs counter to the ideals that America was founded on.” – Michael Miebach, CEO of Mastercard
  • “For those of us in the United States, regardless of our political affiliations, all of us must work to protect our democracy and do what we can to bring our country together as we move forward from this moment.” – Brian Tyler, CEO of McKesson
  • “For those of us in the United States, regardless of our political affiliations, all of us must work to protect our democracy and do what we can to bring our country together as we move forward from this moment.” – Brian Tyler, CEO of McKesson
  • “As someone who has benefitted immensely from the freedoms we enjoy in the United States, I am deeply troubled by the images today from our nation’s capital. We all deserve better than the chaos we are seeing in Washington, D.C. – as a society and as a nation.” – Geoff Martha, CEO of Medtronic
  • “We are shocked to witness the events at the U.S. Capitol, and deeply disappointed by the misleading claims that incited these actions.” – Micron Technology
  • “This is a day to speak up for our Constitution and its values. We are proud to be a member of the Business Roundtable.” – Brad Smith, President of Microsoft
  • [Following election victory certification.] “Congratulations to the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden! Today is a beautiful moment for democracy. Now we must move through the dark times our country has faced and toward a brighter, more unified future.” – David Kenny, CEO of Nielsen
  • “I urge leaders from both sides of the aisle to take a stand and call for the violence to end. Now, more than ever, we need to foster an environment of inclusion and healing.” – Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal
  • “Now is the time to come together, find ways to understand our differences and solve the problems we face constructively.” – Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer
  • “The violence that occurred at the Capitol yesterday must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. There is no room for nuance. Democracy depends on the peaceful transition of power – period.” – Marc Lautenbach, CEO of Pitney Bowes
  • “The violence and lawlessness that took place in Washington today was disgraceful and un-American, and has no place in our democracy.” – Charles F. Lowrey, CEO of Prudential
  • During a webcast to employees, PwC US Chairman Tim Ryan emphasized, “I think it is safe to say that this is a surreal day that will go down in our country’s history.”
  • “I am deeply troubled by the events we saw unfold at the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to thwart the democratic process that has defined our nation since its founding. … We must begin the process of healing, unite in the common goal of addressing division in our society and restore civility.” – Doug Peterson, CEO of S&P Global
  • “Our leaders must call for peace and unity now. There is no room for violence in our democracy.” – Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce
  • “SAP stands with the leaders of the Business Roundtable – we need to end violence and focus on a peaceful transfer of power.” – Christian Klein, CEO of SAP SE
  • “Much like our need to model leadership in safety, it is just as important to be a model for our values and support our democratic ideals — the same ideals that underpin a prosperous and free nation for all.” – Jeffrey W. Martin, CEO of Sempra Energy
  • “Yesterday’s acts left us with heavy hearts. Today we can look forward with hope, to a more peaceful transition. Let’s now lead, unite, and pledge to leave our world better than we found it. Together we can accomplish so much.” – Bill McDermott, CEO of ServiceNow
  • “We condemn the disturbing and horrifying storming of the U.S. Capitol. With President-elect Joe Biden rightfully certified as the 46th POTUS, we call on all Americans to persevere and move forward with a peaceful transition of power.” – Jim Loree, CEO of StanleyBlack&Decker
  • “The dangerous, violent actions perpetrated by an unlawful group of domestic terrorists at the U.S. Capitol undermines the very essence of what we stand for as a nation. It is time to do away with division and animosity and forge ahead together to create a better future for all.” – Tom Fanning, CEO of Southern Company
  • “We condemn the recent violence, hate and attack on our democracy. Progress begins when we stand up and speak out. We must hold each other accountable to build a more hopeful and just future, together.” – Starbucks
  • “What we are witnessing does not reflect who we are as a nation, nor does it reflect the values our country holds sacred. Today more than ever, all voices deserve to be heard, but this must happen in a peaceful and lawful manner.” – Margaret Keane, CEO of Synchrony
  • “What happened in Washington, D.C. is an offense to the ideals of American democracy.” – The Coca-Cola Company
  • “Our society and economy are built on the foundation of a strong democracy, which thrives when we come together with mutual respect and a focus on the greater good.” – Chris Swift, CEO of The Hartford
  • “We are appalled by the lawlessness and violence that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol and strongly condemn the actions of those individuals who participated in the illegal activities that destroyed property and cost lives.” – Carol Tomé, CEO of UPS
  • “We condemn any type of senseless violence and rioting that we saw yesterday. It’s just unacceptable.” – Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon
  • “We at Visa stand 100% behind the results of the election and the collective voices of the citizens of this country.” – Alfred F. Kelly, Jr, Chairman and CEO of Visa
  • “America is at its best when we are unified, working as one nation. There is nothing good about the violent and unlawful protests in DC. I’m praying today for a peaceful transition of leadership.” – Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware
  • “We are in full support of Business Roundtable’s position and believe in peace and unity as we move forward in upholding democracy.” – Aneel Bhusri, CEO of Workday
  • “If this were a Black crowd, if this was a Latino, Mexican, any kind of shaded crowd, they’d be dead,” – Ursula Burns, former CEO of Xerox

NOTE: The list above was compiled by the good folks at JUST Capital

Pausing Campaign Contributions

Dealbook reports that some big banks are pausing all political donations, while others are pausing donations to specific politicians:

  • Goldman Sachs is freezing donations through its PAC and will conduct “a thorough assessment of how people acted during this period”
  • JPMorgan Chase is halting donations through its PAC for six months. “There will be plenty of time for campaigning later,” said Peter Scher, the bank’s head of corporate responsibility.
  • Citigroup is putting all campaign contributions on hold for a quarter. “We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law,” Candi Wolff, the bank’s head of government affairs, wrote in an internal memo.
  • Marriott said it will pause donations from its PAC “to those who voted against certification of the election,” a spokeswoman told DealBook. 
  • Blue Cross Blue ShieldBoston Scientific and Commerce Bancshares are taking a similar, targeted approach to donation freezes. The newsletter Popular Information is tracking the responses of these and other companies that donated to lawmakers who challenged the election result.

What Next?

We have to ask: are companies finally realizing that some of them have played a central role in corrupting our democracy? What are they going to do about it, besides tweeting condolences and prayers for our Democracy?

Dan Price, the CEO and founder of Gravity Payments, questions the intent of these CEO protestations:

And in the meantime, ordinary citizens will have to continue with their “brandshaming” activities. Who is really responsible? The fingerpointing has begun.

Welcome to 2021.