Fortune 500 companies can’t hide their support for the Republican coup caucus

“Let democracy die as long as our corporate profits, buybacks, and stock prices climb.” That is essentially what hundreds of the largest corporations and industry groups in the U.S. are saying with the $46 million in campaign contributions they’ve made to members of the fascistic Republican “coup caucus” running for re-election to Congress on Nov. 8.

Among the Fortune 500 companies financially supporting the 147 coup caucus candidates: Boeing, Home Depot, AT&T, UPS, General Motors, Honeywell, FedEx, Pfizer, Wells Fargo, U.S. Health Care, and Walgreens. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Board of Realtors are the corporate trade associations leading the pack. And the largest non-publicly traded corporation contributing to the coup caucus is Koch Industries.

Corporations that originally said they would cease contributing after the Jan. 6 coup attempt but which are now letting the campaign cash flow include Chase, MetLife, and Amazon.

These corporations are funding the same exact Republican incumbents who refused to certify the 2020 election, instead spreading the lie that the election of President Joe Biden and the Democratic majority in the House was fraudulent.

The recent congressional hearings revealed that key leaders of the caucus supported, planned, and orchestrated the coup—together with Trump and the far-right and fascist organizations that back him.

Key organizers of the coup, all of whom were funded right up to Jan. 6 include Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Dan Bishop, Mo Brooks, Louie Gohmert, and Scott Perry.

Just as insidious are heavily-funded Republican Party leaders Keven McCarthy, Steve Scalise, and Elise Stefanik. Some might argue they did not participate directly, but their leadership in election denial and voter subversion will be essential if a fascistic power grab—whether through appointment of fake electors to overrule the popular vote or another violent coup—is to succeed.

In January 2021, confronted by the attempted coup at the Capitol, 247 of these corporations stated they were suspending or pausing their contributions to the coup caucus members, given the attack on democracy. For instance, AT&T said, “We believe the right to vote is sacred, and we support voting laws that make it easier for more Americans to vote in free, fair, and secure elections.”

But as early as April 2021, over half of the corporations that issued such statements reneged on them.

Many of these companies have headquarters or offices in New York City, and New Yorkers use their products every day. On Wall Street are Chevron and AT&T; midtown hosts Honeywell and Koch Industries; in Chelsea you’ll find Home Depot and Spectrum; up in Murray Hill there Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Eli Lilly.

As they seek to reap the benefits of their campaign contributions, these corporations hope New Yorkers won’t notice their checks are made out to the coup caucus.

On Nov. 4, a new coalition—FIGHT THE CORPORATE BACKERS OF FASCISM—will demonstrate at Hudson Yards, recent addition to New York City’s oligopoly skyline and a symbol of skyrocketing wealth, filled with upscale restaurants and condos. It also boasts many tenants who financially support the fascist coup caucus, such as Amazon, Wells Fargo, Pfizer, Black Rock, Ernst &Young, and Chase.

We will gather on Nov. 4 to say: “Wall Street companies, you can’t hide, you support democracide!” and “No to Plutocracy, Defend Democracy!”

The midterms approaching next week are no ordinary election. Together with the November 2024 vote, they will represent either a defeat by voters of the program of the far right and the fascists, or the culmination of their strategy to destroy working people’s gains and democracy—democracy already considerably hollowed out by Wall Street inroads and Supreme Court decisions.

Republicans have lost the popular vote in the last four elections. If Jim Crow gerrymandering or the creation of fake elector slates to subvert the popular vote don’t work for them, it might turn out that the failed Jan. 6 coup attempt was a dress rehearsal for a more sinister one to come.

Behind their reactionary political program lies a steady stream of lies, of white supremacy and misogyny, fascist imagery, and violence against officials protecting the vote, left activists, dissenting Democratic and Republican politicians, and even police and the FBI. They are allying with the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, neo-Nazis, and other fascist organizations to do it.

The corporations backing these GOP politicians argue that they are using their contributions to secure the best benefits for their shareholders—in this case, further tax cuts from a Trump or Desantis administration and a Republican Congress enabling more corporate stock buybacks and enrichment of their officers. They’re also angling for the abolition of health, safety, labor, and environmental regulations and the blocking of legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act, Build Back Better, and the Green New Deal.

By funding these candidates, the companies are not only spitting on the right to vote they claim to hold sacred. They are saying that their corporate values include: white supremacy, Jim Crow gerrymandering, and the looming threat of a fascistic dictatorship. It’s all acceptable as long as profits are protected.

Unfortunately, it also has to be pointed out that both Democrats and Republicans back many of these corporations’ favored policies, like NAFTA, “welfare reform,” tax cuts for the rich, deregulation of big business, massive privatization of public institutions. All these are part of the dangerous mix of policies that helped create the rampant inequality that is the breeding ground for fascism.

Big business and fascism

This is not the first time that U.S.-based corporations have supported the far right to advance their profit agenda. In fact, this is not the first time big business in America has supported fascist power grabs.

Henry Ford, founder of Ford Company, was an avid supporter of German and Italian fascism because, as he put it, “The business of America is business.” Ford Motors, General Motors, IBM, Dupont, Alcoa, Goodyear, and Standard Oil all profited from and, in some cases, actually provided crucial materials for planes, tanks, and munitions Nazi preparations for war.

Corporations in those days supported fascism for the same reasons that companies like AT&T, UPS, Boeing, and Raytheon today support the re-election campaigns of coup caucus members. By doing so, they hope to guarantee their super-profits and secure a bulwark against a people’s movement that demands curbs on its power.

Not all corporations back in the 1930s supported fascistic power grabs, just as some corporations do not do so now. To be fair, as of September 2022, one-third of the 247 corporations that paused or pledged to end contributions to coup caucus members have kept their promise.

But of course, then as now, many corporations that claim to be for “democracy” and the “sacred right to vote” are loathe to oppose and expose the course of their fellow industry members, given the web of ties to each other (interlocking directorships, joint stock ownership, etc.).

Fight the Corporate Backers of Fascism

What’s necessary is a continuing campaign of exposure of and opposition to corporate support for fascism—starting in the 2022 elections and then right on through the 2024 vote. While we mobilize in the streets and at the ballot box, shareholders who have any decency should be challenging these publicly-traded corporations over where they’re putting their political dollars (as AT&T shareholders did earlier this year). There has to be pressure for boycotts and divestment campaigns. For instance, union, state, and city pension funds have already been doing this this with regard to their fossil fuel company holdings.

We call on the labor and people’s movements to expose these corporations whose money helps enable the fascistic power grab of Trump/Desantis and the Republican Party. And we call on the labor and people’s movements to oppose and expose the coup caucus, which stands for the destruction of working people’s gains and democracy.

And to all New York State voters, let us organize and vote in the 2022 elections as if our lives depend on it. Whether it is the future of women’s reproductive freedom, LGBTQ or labor rights, or whether the future of democracy or the future of our planet itself, the stakes are tremendous.

As New Yorkers, we have a special responsibility to help defeat “our own” members of the coup caucus, such as Republican Nicole Malliotokis in the 11th CD (Staten Island-Brooklyn) and Elise Stefanik in the 21st CD (ten of N.Y.’s northeastern counties).

Organize, and vote on Nov. 8.

If you’re in New York City, join the action on Nov. 4, at 4p.m.

442 West 33rd Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues)

See here for more info.

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article reflects the opinions of its author.


Chris Butters
Chris Butters

Chris Butters is a socialist and labor activist, retired NYC court reporter, and a former DC 37 (AFSCME) chapter officer. In addition to participating in anti-racist and labor struggles, his poetry continues to be published in Blue Collar Review, a quarterly journal of poetry and prose published by Partisan Press, and many other literary and left poetry magazines.