JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs join U.S. corporations halting political donations after Capitol riot

Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., second left, listens during a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup were among the first major financial firms to say they put a hold on political donations after followers of President Trump laid siege on the U.S. Capitol last week.

JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, is pausing political action committee contributions for Republicans and Democrats for “at least” the next six months, spokesman Steve O’Halloran said. The New York-based bank will use that time to consider changes to its political-donation strategies.

“The country is facing unprecedented health, economic and political crises,” said JPMorgan’s head of corporate responsibility Peter Scher. “The focus of business leaders, political leaders, civic leaders right now should be on governing and getting help to those who desperately need it most right now. There will be plenty of time for campaigning later.”

Spurred on by Wednesday’s riot, which resulted in five deaths, corporations including Marriott International and Blue Cross Blue Shield have said they would stop giving money to Republican lawmakers who backed efforts to disrupt the certification of  President-elect Joe Biden‘s victory. But most banks, rather than targeting and potentially alienating members of the Republican Party, have instead decided to halt donations to all lawmakers for now.

The moves were part of the larger fallout from an insurrection that forced American corporations to come to terms with how to respond. Technology companies including Twitter, Facebook and Amazon have made moves to limit the spread of disinformation that could incite more violence.

Political action committees allow companies to sidestep federal laws that prohibit them from giving money directly to candidates. They pool voluntary employee donations and can direct up to $5,000 to a candidate per election, as well as $15,000 annually to any national party committee.

Only Morgan Stanley made it clear that it will not make donations to members of Congress who opposed the Electoral College certification of Biden, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The firm will continue contributions to other lawmakers, the person said.

Goldman Sachs paused all PAC donations last week “in light of what happened” at the Capitol, spokesman Jake Siewert said in an e-mail. The ban will likely be for six months, he said.

Citigroup is also pausing contributions to all lawmakers during the first quarter, the bank told employees Friday in an internal communication.

“We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law,” Candi Wolff, head of Citi’s global government affairs, said in the memo. “We intend to pause our contributions during the quarter as the country goes through the presidential transition and hopefully emerges from these events stronger and more united.”

Bank of America spokesman Bill Halldin said that the “appalling violent assault on the U.S. Capitol” will factor into donation decisions for the 2022 midterm elections.

Wells Fargo is “reviewing its go-forward Political Action Committee strategy in light of the terrible and tragic events of last week,” Jennifer Dunn, a spokeswoman for the bank, said in a statement.

Source: CNBC