The money fueling the campaigns of Pennsylvania politicians — and their Washington, D.C., counterparts —includes small-dollar donations from individual voters, as well as bigger checks from dues-collecting unions and wealthy benefactors with special interests.
Political action committees controlled by both small and large companies also make up a piece of the pie. But since the attempted insurrection Jan. 6, many corporate PACs have paused donations, particularly to members of Congress who spread falsehoods about the 2020 election in an attempt to block the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
As many as two-thirds of the Republican members of Pennsylvania’s House and Senate also supported those efforts. But it’s unclear if the corporations that have paused political giving to federal lawmakers will do the same for these state legislators.
Glossy postcards jammed into mailboxes. Television ads filling every commercial break, and m…
“You’d think the logic would apply equally to state lawmakers,” said Brendan Fischer, a campaign finance expert with the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C.
In Pennsylvania, corporations like Comcast, Independence Blue Cross, Highmark and FirstEnergy have been some of the top corporate spenders through their PACs registered in the state. Some legislators, mostly House and Senate leaders, could lose out on five-figure checks if those companies stop giving.
First Energy, UPS and Microsoft are among a few companies that have said their pause on donations includes members of the Pennsylvania Legislature, the political newsletter Popular Information reported in January. Others like the Philadelphia-based Comcast haven’t gone that far.
Even if they do, observers say, the pause might not last that long anyway.
“Corporations run the risk of losing that access if they stop making corporate PAC contributions,” Fischer said, referring to Microsoft President Brad Smith’s recent comments about donations primarily being used to make connections with lawmakers. “As the political cycle moves forward, you’d imagine some corporations pick up their giving once again.”