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Ford, Dow, Rocket Mortgage to alter political donations in wake of Capitol upheaval

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News

Michigan-based business powerhouses Dow Inc., Ford Motor Co. and Rocket Mortgage are among the businesses that have made changes to their political donation policies in the wake of political upheaval at the U.S. Capitol building last week. 

The blowback marks the culmination of long-simmering frustrations with President Donald Trump and his political style in the business community, which is often allied with Republican leaders. Most recently, the CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, Jay Timmons, called upon members of Trump's cabinet to consider invoking the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove the president from office.

Workers install no-scale fencing around the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday.

Members of the U.S. Congress met on Capitol Hill last Wednesday to certify the results of the Electoral College vote in favor of President-elect Joe Biden.

A protest of the certification turned violent when hundreds of Trump supporters rushed the Capitol building, climbing over barricades, fighting with police, breaking windows and furniture and rifling through members' offices. Lawmakers, staff and media were locked down and then evacuated from the building. Two people died from clashes during the siege and three others died from medical emergencies. 

When Congress returned, nearly 150 members still chose to vote to overturn the Electoral College votes of crucial swing states, including Michigan Republican Reps. Jack Bergman of Watersmeet, Lisa McClain of Clinton Township and Tim Walberg of Tipton. Their efforts failed, but both the riots and the subsequent vote have sparked backlash across the political spectrum. 

Among that backlash: The drying up of political contributions from major corporations that collectively spend millions of dollars on campaigns through political action committees.

Midland-based Dow released a Monday statement saying it would immediately suspend all corporate and employee PAC donations "to any member of Congress who voted to object to the certification of the presidential election" for the period of an election cycle — two years for House members and up to six years for senators.

The company spent around $375,000 on candidates in both political parties in the 2020 election, though in other election cycles it typically spends more, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

"Dow is committed to the principles of democracy and the peaceful transfer of power," the statement read. "Our values — integrity, respect for people, and protecting our planet — are the foundation on which we stand and our values guide our political contributions."

Ford, which spent $2.6 million in political contributions on candidates in both political parties in the 2020 cycle according to the Center for Responsive Politics, said it would temporarily stop political donations entirely. 

"Events over the past year have underscored the need for a broader, ongoing discussion about other relevant considerations when it comes to our employee PAC,"  Ford spokeswoman Rachel McCleery said in a statement. "In order to give these important discussions the time and reflection they deserve, the Ford PAC will be suspending new contributions for now."

Jeannine Ginivan, a spokeswoman for General Motors Co., said the company has not determined its 2021 PAC spending yet, "as is standard in any contribution cycle" and that any contributions "will be evaluated to ensure candidates align with our core values." General Motors spent $3.5 million on political campaigns in both parties in the 2020 cycle.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV does not have a PAC and doesn't make political contributions, spokesperson Kevin Frazier said. 

Rocket Mortgage — a subsidiary of Quicken Loans under Rock Holdings Inc., which spent $2.7 million on political contributions in both parties in the 2020 cycle — said in a press release first reported by Crain's Detroit Business that it would contribute $750,000 to the federal inauguration committee, which will support events related to Biden's inauguration, and then suspend all political giving while it "contemplate(s) the role corporations play in the political process."

"We were truly appalled and disheartened by the actions that took place at the U.S. Capitol last week," CEO Jay Farner said in the statement. "Our country is at an important inflection point — one that will undoubtedly have a lasting impact for generations. It is more crucial than ever that we come together to demonstrate the ability to celebrate a centuries-old tradition of the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next."

Ford, Dow and Rocket Mortgage are joined by other major companies nationwide in halting or altering political donations, including Facebook, BlackRock, Marriott and American Express. 

The reaction from major businesses is just one piece of the continuing fall out of Wednesday's attempted insurgency at the Capitol. Trump conceded to Biden the next day, with only 13 days left in his term. 

Democrats are calling for Trump's ouster, and members of the Democratically-led U.S. House are set to vote on articles of impeachment against Trump — for the second time — on Wednesday. 


Twitter: @rbeggin