The sportswear giant announced on Wednesday that its political action committee (PAC) will no longer donate to any member of the US Congress, who fails to uphold the “principles of democracy”, including the 147 Republican legislators, who “voted to decertify the Electoral College results.”
Nike is somewhat of a latecomer to the latest corporate trend in the US: signaling a love of democracy by keeping money away from Republican pockets. The likes of Commerce Bank, Mastercard, Marriott, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and AT&T have already slapped the same group of lawmakers with their versions of unilateral sanctions.
Greeting cards giant Hallmark went as far as to demand that Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall returned their donations. The statement didn’t specify that those amounted to about $3,000 and $5,000 respectively in the 2019-2020 election cycle.
Others, including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, have paused all political donations either for review or indefinitely, according to their statements.
Whether such pledges hold in three or six or 12 months is anyone’s guess. Corporations are not particularly famous for being idealism-driven organizations, despite all mission statements to the contrary, and tend to put their share prices ahead of the less tangible values.
It’s safe to assume that if and when the national outrage over the storming of US Capitol building by Trump supporters runs its course in the media, corporate donors will be back to the usual game: playing both sides.
Nike, for example, was happy to donate to the GOP far more than to Dems even as Colin Kaepernick was the face of its ads. It was in 2018, two years before Black Lives Matter protests went mainstream, so the company milked some extra publicity from all the stories about people burning their sneakers to protest its pick of the knee-bending NFL quarterback.
And even if the anger perseveres and publicly donating to Republican candidates is still perceived as a liability, it’s not like America Inc. is renouncing the right to exercise free speech through unlimited opaque super-PAC donations. Those vehicles for influencing US political life outstripped regular PACs by an order of magnitude in the last election cycle ($3.2 billion vs. $529.3 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics) and are there to stay, no matter who invades the Capitol.
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