Feehery: Corporate America hurts itself when it stops participating in the political system

Feehery: Corporate America hurts itself when it stops participating in the political system

In full disclosure, I’m a lobbyist and as a lobbyist, I give campaign contributions.

I think it is time for some frank talk about campaign finance and the future of business political action committees.

Over the first quarter of this year, the National Republican Congressional Committee outraised the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee with online donations for the first time in history and almost beat them in all donations despite being in the minority.


Rep. Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneRep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she's meeting with Trump 'soon' in Florida QAnon site shutters after reports identifying developer Republicans head to runoff in GA-14 MORE, a Republican who represents a Georgia district and who Democrats dislike so much that they took the unprecedented step of removing her from her committee posts, raised more money than several United States senators, including Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulBuckingham Palace requests 'Trump Train' remove image of queen from bus The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Overnight Health Care: Biden announces 1M have enrolled in special ObamaCare sign-up period | Rand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins | Biden vows to get 'more aggressive' on lifestyle benefits of vaccines MORE (R-Ky.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Senate votes to repeal OCC 'true lender' rule Democrats cool on Crist's latest bid for Florida governor MORE (R-Fla.), who have expressed an interest in running for the White House.

This fundraising bonanza has happened largely without the corporate world’s participation.

The Jan. 6 disaster prompted many corporations to suspend giving from their political action committees to all candidates. Other corporations said that they wouldn’t give money to what they dubbed “the dissenters,” those Republicans who voted not to certify the presidential election. Still others have decided to get out of the political game entirely and disband their PAC’s.

As the early first-quarter news shows, Republicans are going to raise plenty of money and be in a strong position to take back the House and the Senate in the 2022 elections. And how they raise the money has been steadily changing for years. Because of technology advances and given the political polarization that has infected the country since the Obama administration, PAC donations have steadily declined as a percentage of political giving for years.

Politicians actively court small donors, through online portals, text-messaging campaigns and also by creating earned-media events that capture the attention of activist citizens, as they actively court mega-donors, who can donate unlimited money to unregulated Super PACs.


The messaging to both groups is largely similar: If you don’t give, the world as we know it is going to end tomorrow. For Republicans, sending text messages about the latest culture war atrocities committed by the left has proven to be fertile ground for small-dollar fundraising. For the left, climate change apocalyptic messaging has dominated fundraising for progressive super-funders.

The idea that corporate fundraising through the traditional political action committee route has direct and unsavory influence on the final outcome of any legislative proposal is laughable. Not one member of Congress has been bought and paid for by a $5,000 PAC check.

And if the early returns are any indication, many Republicans do not necessarily need corporate donations, especially the most controversial and conservative of those in the GOP caucus.

Corporate America seems to think that by withholding their campaign donations from Republicans, they are punishing Republicans. What they are actually doing is punishing themselves.

Campaign fundraising inside the beltway is not an exercise in influence. It is largely an exercise in building relationships and giving policy makers information to help them make more informed decisions.

Republicans have been traditionally more aligned with the business community for two reasons. Philosophically they distrust government over-reach. They tend to trust the marketplace more than they trust government programs. And as a result, more business owners tend to run as Republicans.

The business world is much more endlessly complex than meets the eye. It takes a lot of work to create supply chains, create products, market business, hire employees, let alone pay taxes and deal with regulations.

Many members of Congress don’t have the first idea of how complex these businesses are or how their policy decisions impact them. And that is why it is vitally important that representatives of the business community build relationships with members of Congress, especially Republicans who appreciate the power of the free market and the value of the capitalist system.

When corporate America, reacting to the latest news of the day, decides to stop supporting Republicans or worse decides to stop participating in the political system entirely, they really only hurt themselves.

Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at www.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Speaker Dennis HastertJohn (Dennis) Dennis HastertFeehery: The right choice to lead the Conference Feehery: Biden seems intent on repeating the same mistakes of Jimmy Carter Feehery: Corporate America hurts itself when it stops participating in the political system MORE (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).