When it comes to well-heeled leaders of S&P 500 companies, it’s clear who they want to sit in the White House for the next four years. This is going by how much money they pour into a candidate's campaign.
According to the analysis by MarketWatch that looked at the Federal Election Commission data, 15 CEOs that lead an S&P 500 company have donated a total of $2.489 million to President Trump’s reelection campaign, either through his principal campaign committee, its joint fundraising groups with the Republican National Committee or pro-Trump super PACs.
Meanwhile, the campaign of Democratic nominee Joe Biden has a mere $536,100 in contributions to his main campaign committee. This includes its joint groups with the Democratic National Committee or pro-Biden super PACs from more than 30 CEOs.
President Trump’s largest donors include Intercontinental Exchange’s Jeffrey Sprecher and Las Vegas Sands’s Sheldon Adelson, a longtime GOP donor. The list also also includes Vornado Realty Trust’s Steven Roth and Oracle’s Safra Catz.
Disney’s Bob Iger, who is currently the entertainment company’s executive chairman Amphenol’s Richard Norwitt, DuPont’s Edward Breen, Merck’s Kenneth Frazier and Vertex Pharmaceuticals’s Jeffrey Leiden were the largest donors to Joe Biden’s campaign.
Michael Beckel, research director at Issue One, says the donations could be a sign that corporate America prefers Trump’s tax cuts to Biden’s promise to raise taxes.
“Some corporate executives may see their political contributions as good investments in policies that will benefit them,” Beckel told MarketWatch in an email. Many of them “see themselves as having a fiduciary responsibility to be active in politics.”
Wall Street Putting Money on Biden
Interestingly, while Trump is gathering larger donations from corporate America, Wall Street is pushing more money towards the Biden campaign.
According to OpenSecrets, which bills itself as a center for responsive politics, employees from Goldman Sachs have contributed $156,584 to Biden's campaign. This is compared to only $11,943 to the Trump reelection campaign.
JPMorgan Chase has raised $379,057 for Biden, versus only $86,083 for President Trump’s campaign. Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley employees have contributed $257,821 to Biden’s campaign and $96,010 for Trump.
Beckel also acknowledges that some CEOs may face criticism for their political beliefs. In particular, it received criticism when it comes to supporting our President.
He says the CEOs are contributing “based on their own political preferences and ideological leanings,” even if the contributions could “carry some risks for companies. An executive’s giving could turn off a segment of customers from their brand, and even lead to protests or boycotts.”
Bruce Freed, president of the Center for Political Accountability, agrees with Beckel that contributions can also backfire in today’s climate.
“Companies today face very serious risks — both reputational risks and bottom-line risks — for contributions that companies are making,” Freed said in a recent interview. He said these may happen particularly if the donations “conflict with their core values and positions.”
“All of these things have made political spending much more controversial for companies and executives — and much riskier,” he said.