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JetBlue Makes 1st PAC Giving to Election Objector After Halt (1)

April 7, 2021, 8:09 PM; Updated: April 7, 2021, 10:07 PM

JetBlue Airways Corp. is the first company to end a pause in PAC contributions following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and disclose giving to one of the Republican lawmakers objecting to the Electoral College vote count.

A $1,000 contribution from the airline’s corporate political action committee to Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) was listed in the report filed with the Federal Election Commission on April 5. Malliotakis was among nearly 150 lawmakers who objected to the Electoral College vote certification on Jan. 6.

No other corporate PAC that announced a pause is believed to have reported a donation directly to a lawmaker who objected to the certification of President Joe Biden’s election.

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), an election objector, received a $1,000 contribution from the JetBlue PAC, which paused giving after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

When it announced the pause in January, JetBlue officials told CNN the PAC made the decision to review the political landscape and hear from its employee contributors. The company did not provide a response to an inquiry from Bloomberg Government about the giving.

The disclosure is a sign that at least some companies are having second thoughts after promising to review their PAC giving following the riot by pro-Trump demonstrators that sought to interrupt the presidential vote certification. Other companies that paused their giving have already reported giving to leadership PACs or Republican Party committees that support vote objectors. Some current PAC giving won’t be disclosed to the FEC for weeks or months.

Disappointing Decision

JetBlue’s decision on PAC giving was “disappointing but not terribly surprising,” said Brendan Fischer of the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, which favors stricter campaign finance laws.

Companies historically have used PAC money to help gain access and argue their cases to lawmakers, who set the rules for their industry. Malliotakis, for example, serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which oversees airlines. JetBlue also reported giving to several other lawmakers, including Democrats, in the FEC report that listed its contribution to Malliotakis.

Republican lawmakers and others have complained that companies are being pressured not to support the GOP. They note that PAC contributions to candidates come from employees, not the corporate treasury.

Giving Review

At least 145 corporate, industry group and law firm PACs announced after Jan. 6 that they would be reevaluating their PAC contributions in the wake of the insurrection on the Capitol, including nearly 100 that said they would be suspending all political giving for a period of time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and CNN.

The National Association of Realtors, one of the most powerful groups in Washington, paused its federal contributions after Jan. 6. The association resumed giving a month later following a meeting of its PAC board but hasn’t reported giving to election objectors.

“Our association lifted the temporary pause on federal political disbursements, ensuring we continue to engage with political candidates in effort to support America’s homeowners and our nation’s real estate industry,” a spokesman said in an email last month.

(Updates with CLC reaction after Disappointing Decision subhead and companies that paused giving and Realtors' decision to end that pause after Giving Review subhead.)

With assistance from Christina Brady and Megan R. Wilson

To contact the reporter on this story: Kenneth P. Doyle in Washington at kdoyle@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bennett Roth at broth@bgov.com

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