Leaders from a growing list of U.S. corporations have announced plans to suspend funding for certain members of the U.S. Congress. Legislators affected include those who either refused to certify Electoral College results or otherwise supported the insurrectionists who breached the Capitol on January 6.
The Democracy Reinvestment Fund, an offering from Washington, D.C.-based Amalgamated Foundation, seeks to give those suspended funds a place to land. The new fund was created with the mission of supporting democracy reform, racial justice, COVID-19 relief and climate change action.
If fund managers are going for the funds normally earmarked for elections, they will have significant opportunities. Within House races alone, corporations donated more than $360 million to candidates. Amalgamated Foundation Executive Director Amanda Fink did not speculate on how much of that went to candidates who supported decertifying the Electoral College results or otherwise giving coming to the insurrectionists.
The potential pool, however, deepens almost every day. On February 5, Microsoft Corp. joined the list of organizations suspending contributions to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the presidential election results. Microsoft Corporate Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs Fred Humphries wrote in a corporate blog post that the company would also suspend contributions to state officials and organizations who opposed certification or suggested the election be overturned.
Humphries also wrote that the company was revamping its political action committee and would be creating a new Democracy Forward Initiative that will support organizations that promote campaign finance reform, public transparency and voting rights. During the 2019-2020 season, Microsoft’s PAC distributed 837,000 to federal candidates, 57 percent of whom were Republicans and 43 percent of whom were Democrats, according to The Center for Responsive Politics’ opensecrets.org site.
Fink does not view Amalgamated’s new fund as partisan, although it is definitely political. “We see there being a real opportunity for corporations to join us in reinvesting in democracy at this moment, given the real divisions and hate that has started to cause no major disruptions in our country,” she said.
That said, the Democracy Reinvestment Fund will not give money to political candidates. Instead, it will support U.S.-based charitable and educational activities that promote voting rights, registering voters and opposing extremist groups.
The new fund is a sister offering to the Hate is Not Charitable Campaign, an effort launched by the Amalgamated Foundation in 2019 that is geared toward funding groups that promote hatred. According to the Amalgamated Foundation website, the campaign encompasses more than 20 donor advised funds, donor networks and foundations that collectively represent more than $1 billion in assets.
Unlike the Democracy Reinvestment Fund, the Hate is not Charitable Campaign focuses more on transparency within the philanthropic sphere. According to Fink, the Campaign’s purpose is to shed light on how foundations, donor advised funds and other mechanisms can be used to funnel money to hate groups. But it isn’t a pooled fund, and doesn’t distribute money itself.
The Democracy Reinvestment Fund is in its early stages. Representatives from Amalgamated Foundation have begun reaching out through their personal and professional relationships and networks, and will develop subsequent efforts from there. During 2020, 5he Amalgamated Foundation itself distributed more than $36 million in contributions to democracy and racial justice organizations, according to Fink.
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