As companies reach the halfway point in 2021, political action committees representing some of America’s most important industries—energy, financial services, healthcare, technology, retail and transportation—have raised tens of millions of dollars this year to help shape the policies that govern America’s recovery.
While many corporate government relations teams were simply focused on survival last year, influencing pandemic relief bills and other policies that allowed companies to adapt and continue to operate, this year’s efforts are largely focused on recovery.
For example, retailers suffered more than 15,000 bricks-and-mortar store closures nationwide last year, according to a report by Cushman & Wakefield in March. But online shopping has boomed and analysts predict consumer spending could increase as Americans increasingly leave their homes. The industry is likely to oppose anything that could interfere with that recovery, such as an increase in corporate taxes. Accordingly, almost 300 retail industry PACs raised almost $7.9 million and spent about $3.2 million year-to-date through June, according to reports processed by the Federal Election Commission.
Overall, almost 1,200 corporate PACs across industries raised almost $43.8 million year-to-date through June. Those PACs spent $14.8 million in that same period, including $4.9 million contributed to Republican committees and $6 million to Democratic committees.
Indeed, many industries are facing major regulatory and legislative issues in coming months, from the partisan fight over a massive infrastructure bill now taking place in Congress to President Biden’s push to curtail the use of fossil fuels in favor of renewables. Many of these battles will take place in the next three quarters, before the window for major legislation is closed by next year’s midterm elections. PAC managers and other government affairs professionals will be busy.
To better understand the campaign finance landscape, Phone2Action used its Donor Insight tool to produce reports on PAC activity in six key industries. Here, you will find the top company and association PACs by receipts and disbursements, a breakdown of partisan spending, the average contribution that PACs collect and other useful information. Download the report for your industry below.
In Tough Times, Energy PACs Get Active
Almost every corner of the energy industry, from oil and gas companies to electric utilities, faced hardship in the first half of this year. Utilities struggled to keep grids operating in the face of massive weather anomalies, such as storms in Texas that set records for cold. Oil and gas companies, already hit hard by substantial pandemic-related revenue losses, have come under intense pressure from activists and shareholders over climate change. Add to that an administration pushing hard to move the industry away from fossil fuels and toward wind, solar and other renewables and the industry faces massive regulatory and legislative hurdles on many fronts. It is no surprise that more than 200 industry PACs were active year-to-date through June, according to reports processed by the Federal Election Commission, raising more than $8.6 million and spending more than $3 million.
Tech Companies Face Major Policy Issues
There is no shortage of regulatory and legislative issues facing the technology industry in 2021, as companies in telecom, mobile, electronics, cybersecurity, consumer software, internet services and other fields work to shape the policies that define their markets and their business. The issues that companies will confront range from the administration’s massive infrastructure initiative and the continuing rollout of 5G networks to the prospect of regulating social media platforms and the increasing threat of cyber attacks. It is no surprise that, year-to-date through June, industry PACs raised more than $5.3 million and spent nearly $2.7 million, according to reports processed by the Federal Election Commission.
Healthcare Organizations Continue Work on Pandemic-Related Policy
While the pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to the healthcare industry in 2020, the challenges brought by America’s recovery in 2021 were no less trying. Doctors, nurses, hospital systems, insurers and many other players were extremely active in the first quarter, helping to shape policy on issues such as vaccination, billing protections, insurance coverage, medical supply chains, tele-health regulation and public health infrastructure. Of course, issues such as prescription drug costs and the future of Medicare are always in the foreground. Year to date through June, more than 300 healthcare PACs raised almost $12 million and spent almost $4 million.
Transportation Companies Continue to Adapt
More than many other industries, transportation companies saw their world change dramatically when the pandemic struck in 2020, and the tumult has continued this year. The pandemic slowed passenger travel to record lows, impacting companies from airlines to automakers. Radical changes in consumer demands severely impacted shipping and the movement of freight nationwide. Transportation workers played an essential role in the country’s emergency response. Now, as America recovers, the demands on transportation companies are again shifting, bringing about more changes. While Congress directed billions of dollars in aid to the industry, the need for regulatory relief and assistance will remain and transportation companies will continue working to shape policy. Year-to-date through June, more than 100 industry PACs raised more than $7 million and spent almost $1.6 million, according to reports processed by the Federal Election Commission.
Adjustment Will Continue for Financial Services Companies
The financial services industry was tested in the pandemic, as companies endured the overnight change to digital engagement and virtual service while providing much-needed support during the largest health crisis in a generation. Banks became the vehicle for critical government relief programs. Lenders, insurers and investment firms endured radical changes in their markets. While financial services largely passed the test in 2020, there are big challenges ahead on policy issues ranging from cybersecurity and consumer protection to a federal real-time payments system. With nearly 400 PACs raising more than $21 million and spending almost $9 million year-to-date through June, according to reports processed by the Federal Election Commission, the industry’s voice is likely to be heard.
Retailers Promote Policies to Encourage Economic Recovery
The pandemic forced massive changes in the retail industry as in-person shopping halted, online shopping exploded and services like frictionless payment and curbside pickup became standard. As America recovers in 2021, some analysts say pent up demand and increased savings could cause a spike in consumer spending as Americans increasingly leave their homes. The industry is likely to promote policies that encourage retail recovery, such as investments in infrastructure, targeted government stimulus and improved U.S. trade relationships. It will likely oppose policies that could cause lag, such as increasing corporate taxes or payment fees. Year-to-date through June, almost 300 PACs raised almost $7.9 million and spent about $3.2 million, according to reports processed by the Federal Election Commission.
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