Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona and Jon Ossoff of Georgia introduced legislation in January that would ban for-profit corporations from operating political action committees in an effort to reduce corporate influence in Congress.

“There is so much corporate money in electoral politics in the United States and elected officials should be accountable to individuals, to the public, not to corporate donors,” Ossoff told OpenSecrets during an interview in early March.

The proposal follows record-breaking contributions from business PACs in the 2020 election cycle despite pledges from many Democratic candidates disavowing corporate PAC money.

In the 2020 cycle, business PACs contributed a record $5.9 billion to candidates, up from $2.8 billion during the 2018 cycle and $3.5 billion in 2016. Business PACs have so far contributed $1.5 billion across candidates in the 2022 cycle.

While OpenSecrets’ use of “business PAC” refers to PACs associated with corporations, as well as trade associations and other groups promoting a specific business interest, the Ban Corporate PACs Act would apply only to PACs established and managed by for-profit corporations.

“I think that the corporate money in the U.S. electoral system has negatively impacted policymaking by shifting the focus of the legislative branch to corporate donors from the public interest,” Ossoff said.

Neither he nor Kelly accept contributions from corporate PACs, though Axios notes both have accepted contributions from third-party PACs, some of which accept corporate contributions.

Ossoff and Kelly each received contributions — $10,000 and $20,000 respectively — from Sen. Tom Carper’s (D-Del.) leadership PAC First State since launching their campaigns. First State accepted contributions from PACs affiliated with Capital One Financial Corp.GoogleFox CorporationPfizerUPS and Visa.

In the 2020 cycle, the largest for-profit PAC run by a corporation was AT&T, which gave $2.7 million to candidates — 54% went to Republicans and 46% went to Democrats.

AT&T’s PAC contributed $140,000 in the 2020 cycle to the McCarthy Victory Fund. The PAC also contributed $120,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and $45,000 each to NRSC VictoryNational Republican Congressional Committee and Republican National Committee.

The PAC made some contributions on the Democratic side as well in the 2020 cycle, giving $30,000 to both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

So far this cycle, AT&T’s larger PAC contributions include $30,000 to the NRSC, NRCC, DSCC and DCCC each.

In the 2020 cycle, American Crystal Sugar Company and Comcast were the second and third largest corporate PAC contributors at $2.7 million each, followed by aerospace and defense conglomerate Raytheon Technologies with $2.4 million.

So far in the 2022 cycle, the top for-profit corporate-managed PAC is Blue Cross/Blue Shield with $980,000 in contributions, followed by AT&T with $851,000 and American Crystal Sugar with $825,000.

Among all business PACs, Democratic and Republican candidates have benefitted fairly equally, as both received a total of $56 million.

Of the congressional candidates up for reelection in 2022, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has raked in the most in PAC money — $3.3 million in 2021 — though this figure includes all PACs, not just business interests.

Some of the top business interest PACs that contributed the total maximum of $10,000 in 2021 to Schumer include Blackrock Funds ServicesComcastVisa and Xerox.

In funding his 2022 reelection bid, Schumer also attracted PAC contributions from companies in the pharmaceutical industry and travel industry in recent years, including $10,000 from American AirlinesDelta AirlinesJetblueUnited Airlines and Marriott. His pharmaceutical PAC contributors include Eli LillyMerck and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

On the Republican side, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) received the most total PAC money in 2021 — $3 million — second only to Schumer.

Some of the corporate PACs that contributed to Scott’s total include AflacAmgenBlackrock Funds ServicesExelon CorpGeneral MotorsHome DepotTransunion and Visa — all of which contributed $10,000 to Scott’s 2022 bid.

Under Ossoff and Kelly’s legislation, any existing corporate PACs would have to fully disburse their funds within one year of the bill taking effect.

Although business PAC contributions are generally accepted by members of both parties, Ossoff said he is not concerned about opposition he may face within the Democratic party.

“I ran on a promise to pursue reform and I always knew that would ruffle some feathers, and if it ruffles feathers in my own party, I have no problem with that,” he told OpenSecrets.

Asked about corporate contributions to super PACs, Ossoff said “we may need to look at legislation that addresses that as well.”

“[The Ban Corporate PACs Act] focuses on the formation and operation of corporate PACs, but there’s a need for broader campaign finance reform,” he added.

In the 2020 cycle, about 43% of all business PAC contributions – including corporate PACs and PACs affiliated with industry trade associations – went to Democrats and 57% went to Republicans. In the 2018 cycle, 38% went to Democrats and 62% went to Republicans, close to the 34% Democrat and 66% Republican mark in the 2016 cycle.

The Ban Corporate PACs Act follows Ossoff and Kelly introducing a bill that would require members of Congress and their families place their stock portfolios into a blind trust while in Congress, which both Ossoff and Kelly say they have done themselves.

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