Crisis PR: When Political Funding Backfires

Political Funding Public Relations

It’s no secret that corporate profits help fund many of the big campaigns backing elected politicians. This helps large corporations and wealthy owners to ensure the people in power are those which best represent their personal and business interests. However, as at least 45 companies found out recently, this doesn’t always go according to plan.

Opposition to North Carolina’s anti-LGBT Bill

More than 100 companies voiced their opposition to North Carolina’s state legislature, which prevents municipalities from creating their own rules to prevent discrimination against the LGBT community. The irony is at least 45 of the companies condemning North Carolina’s move, actually helped elect the people who made the law a possibility.

Electing Anti-LGBT Politicians

These 45 companies made contributions to a specific group called the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC). The group’s primary aim is to elect Republican state legislatures all around the country, and it has enjoyed wide success doing so.

Several companies indirectly contributed to these efforts by making contributions to trade associations, who then made contributions to the RSLC. Two such trade associations are the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Benefits from these Contributions

In spite of the outpouring of opposition and regret from the companies, regarding the anti-LGBT law, many received benefits from the officials they helped elect. Some legislative actions benefitting the companies include reductions to workers’ rights, hindering minimum wage increases, and overall protection to their bottom line.

This move by the North Carolina government is the first that does not coincide with the companies’ morals and values. As many of these companies pride themselves on a diverse workforce and customer base embracing all cultures, gender roles, and sexual preferences, the law poses a problem for not just company culture, but their profitability.

Birds of a Feather…

But even worse is the damage to their brand due to the hand they played in the electing of the officials who pushed this bill. Time Warner Cable, for instance, contributed more than $310,000, since 2009. Hewlett-Packard contributed more than $428,000 during this time. And Citigroup dropped nearly a million dollars.

So what do these companies have to say for themselves in the wake of this PR crisis? Many claim the funds went to administrative accounts and others that the contributions were actually intended for the (Republican Attorneys General Associations) RAGA before it split from RSLC.

Microsoft took the most transparent route by stating, “We weigh a number of factors in making political contribution decisions, and will consider this and other issues in making future contribution decisions.”

In doing so, they not only accept their hand in the matter but make amends via future decisions regarding putting their money where their best interests lie. Now, that’s good PR.

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