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These nine Ohio-based Fortune 500 companies donated to campaigns of election deniers

AEP

Columbus, Ohio (WCMH) — This week’s Senate runoff in Georgia marks the end of a long campaign season — the first since 2020, after which 147 members of Congress contested the results of the presidential election despite a lack of widespread fraud. Many of these members ran for re-election, with the support of major corporations in Ohio.

Some companies, after making public statements about suspending support for candidates who voted against certification of the election results on January 6, 2021, have quietly resumed donating to their campaigns.

“(corporations) are the most active lobbyists. They are the most active with lobbying, and how and who they contribute helps us identify who influences the agenda,” said Suzanne Marelli, associate professor of political science at Capital University.

Marilley and NBC4 Investigates reviewed campaign finance data collected by ProPublica that shows several Fortune 500 companies donating to campaigns of candidates who contested the results of the 2020 presidential election, months after support paused.

“It’s scary,” Marilee said. “It’s called getting off the hook too easily.”

Ohio is home to many Fortune 500 companies. NBC4 investigators contacted people who appeared in ProPublica’s database.

1. Marathon Petroleum

The Findlay-based company has donated $306,500 to the campaigns of 54 election opponents, accounting for 30% of the company’s total contributions. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Indiana) received the largest amount from Marathon Petroleum, with $15,000 in campaign contributions.

Marathon did not respond to NBC4’s request for comment.

2. Goodyear Tire and Rubber

Based in Akron, Goodyear has donated $37,500 to the campaigns of 12 election opponents, which is 34% of the company’s total contributions. Representatives Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), Jason Smith (R-Missouri), and Frank D. Lucas (R-Oklahoma) has the largest contributions from Goodyear, at $5,000 each.

Goodyear did not respond to NBC4’s request for comment.

3. First Energy

FirstEnergy, based in Akron, donated $30,000 to the campaigns of six election opponents, accounting for 26% of the company’s total contributions. The campaigns of Representatives Glenn Thompson, John Joyce, Jay Reichenthaler, Lloyd Smoker and Mike Kelly, all Republicans representing Pennsylvania, received $5,000 each from FirstEnergy. Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV) also received $5,000.

After January 6, 2021, FirstEnergy said publicly that it would suspend support for candidates who contest the 2020 presidential election.

The company sent a statement to NBC4:

FirstEnergy does not make corporate contributions to federal candidates or political parties. The FirstEnergy Corp. Employee Political Action Committee (FEPAC) was created to collectively support political candidates, political organizations, and ballot actions using voluntary contributions from eligible company employees.

FEPAC resumed contributions in April 2022 after a hiatus of more than a year to review political participation and develop new policies and practices. FEPAC makes each contribution decision by considering a variety of factors, including energy policy support. “

4. Procter & Gamble

From its headquarters in Cincinnati, Procter & Gamble donated $30,000 to the campaigns of 10 election contestants, accounting for 8% of the company’s political spending. Reps. Stephen J. Chaput (R-Ohio) and Steve Scales (R-Louisiana) benefited most from the company’s bid, receiving $5,000 each.

Procter & Gamble did not respond to NBC4’s request for comment.

5. American Electric Power

Columbus donated $27,500 to the campaigns of 10 election contestants, which is 21% of the company’s total contributions. Rep. Carol Miller received the largest amount from the AEP, with campaign contributions of $10,000.

The AEP said publicly after January 6, 2021, that it would suspend political contributions for all federal candidates. The company resumed its contributions in August 2021.

“As an energy company, AEP works with leaders from both political parties on issues that affect our ability to provide safe and reliable electricity to our customers,” Tammy Ridout, a spokesperson for AEP, said in an email. Our participation in the political process and our political contributions focus on supporting candidates who understand and work to find solutions to the energy and business industry issues that matter to our customers, employees, investors and other stakeholders. We are engaging on topics including infrastructure investment, grid security, and the clean energy transition with legislators and policymakers across the board.”

AEP discloses information about its political activism and political initiatives on its website.

6. Kruger

Based in Cincinnati, Kroger has donated $19,500 to the campaigns of 10 election contestants, which is 15% of the company’s total contributions. The campaigns of Reps. Chaput and Mike Kelly (R-Penn) earned the most from Kruger’s campaigns, at $4,500 each.

Kruger did not respond to NBC4’s request for comment.

7. Fifth Bankcorp III

The Cincinnati-based bank donated $11,000 to the campaigns of two election opponents, accounting for 8% of the company’s total contributions. Rep. Blaine Lutkemere (R-Missouri) received $10,000 from the company.

A Fifth Third spokesperson confirmed the accuracy of the data but declined to comment on the company’s guidance on PAC contributions.

8. Nationwide

The Columbus-headquartered insurer spent just 1% of its campaign donations on candidates who contested the results of the 2020 presidential election. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), currently running for speaker, received $1,500 of the $4,500 Dollars were donated nationally across four dissident campaigns.

“We believe in our political process, supporting candidates and causes aligned with the needs of our members and strengthening the protections we can provide them. As always, our financial contributions will comply with the law,” said Joe Case, a spokesperson for Nationwide.

9. Intel

While Intel is not headquartered in Ohio, the tech giant has become a major player in the Buckeye State since it announced plans to build a multi-billion dollar semiconductor manufacturing campus in New Albany.

Intel donated $92,500 to 29 opponents, which was 9% of the company’s total political donations. Among those candidates, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) received more than $7,500.

Intel was among the companies that publicly announced after the Capitol riot that it would suspend financial support for members of Congress who contested the results of the presidential election. The company resumed donating to these candidates in March 2022.

The Intel Political Action Committee continually evaluates their contributions to ensure they align with our policies and priorities. “Over the past year, we have implemented additional due diligence procedures as Intel has resumed contributions that were previously stalled,” said Linda Kian, a spokeswoman for Intel. “We continue to divide our contributions equally between Republicans and Democrats as we work to build a bipartisan coalition of members of Congress who share our vision of strengthening America’s semiconductor industry, innovation capabilities, and technology leadership.”

Intel discloses its political accountability guidelines on its website, along with the company’s positions on public policy.

Marelli points out that companies will often contribute to more than one candidate competing for the same seat.

“It’s kind of like Vegas,” she said, noting that office holders and committee chairs have an easier time raising money. “They will pump more money and give more money to the incumbents who have a higher probability of being re-elected.”