Two major banks that paused their corporate political giving after the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6 are resuming their donations — but with new parameters.
JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, the nation’s largest and third-largest banks, said they planned to begin donating money gathered by their political action committees to candidates. JPMorgan will restart its giving this month, and Citi resumed on Friday, according to internal memos from both banks.
Both banks said that giving via corporate PACs was a valuable way to engage with political officials from both major parties, but that they would be more transparent with employees about whom their PACs were supporting from now on.
“A PAC is an important tool for JPMorgan Chase employees to engage in the political process in the United States,” the bank’s political action committee wrote in a note that was distributed to workers on Friday. In identifying beneficiaries, the PAC will look for incumbents and candidates who embrace solutions to “longstanding structural challenges that hinder economic growth,” the memo said.
JPMorgan’s PAC in the past had given to political officials who objected to certifying the U.S. presidential election result on Jan. 6 — the backdrop for the attack on the Capitol — but has not since Jan. 1 and would not throughout the current election cycle leading up to the 2022 midterm elections, according to Patricia Wexler, a JPMorgan spokeswoman.
Citi did not rule out such giving, saying in its memo that it would evaluate those individuals “case by case.”
After the Capitol attack, which resulted in five deaths, a wide array of corporations paused their giving, arguing that objections to the election certification were destructive to democracy. They included Blue Cross Blue Shield, Charles Schwab and the Walt Disney Company. But since Jan. 6, some companies have gradually begun PAC giving again.
Donation watchers said this was hardly surprising.
“It was hard to see how they were going to have their cake and eat it, too — how they were going to take a bold stand for democracy and democratic institutions while at the same time asking Congress for entrée and favors, which is their job,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of OpenSecrets, which tracks federal political contributions.