“‘An Epiphany Moment’ for Corporate Political Donors May Have Arrived”


As companies from Coca-Cola to Amazon to Citigroup appear to be tripping over each other to declare that they are “pausing” or “reassessing” donations to Republicans who sought to overturn the election — and, in some cases, suspending giving to both parties — they might want to look at a company that didn’t say anything.

That company is IBM.

It didn’t need to issue a mea culpa for a simple reason. It doesn’t donate to candidates on either side of the aisle — at all, ever.

IBM is one of only a handful of large companies in the United States that is not involved in direct political giving to candidates. It has no political action committee, or PAC. Even when it gives money to trade groups, it restricts its money from being funneled to candidates.

It was a policy put in place more than a century ago by Thomas J. Watson, the founding father of the modern IBM….

The companies speaking out in recent days — American Express, Facebook, Marriott and Morgan Stanley, to name a few more — may deserve credit for pulling back from political donations amid accusations that some funded sedition. A genuine example of leadership would be to go even further and declare that they will get out of the business of political donations completely.

“This could be an epiphany moment,” for corporate chiefs, said Bruce F. Freed, the president of the Center for Political Accountability, a nonpartisan organization that tracks political spending. “How should they engage in the political process? What do they get out of political spending? They have to take a look at the cost. Today the costs have gone way up.”


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