SOUTHEASTERN NC — In the wake of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Rep. David Rouzer is losing the support of the state’s most powerful corporations. Yet, Wilmington’s most powerful family — and Rouzer’s biggest donor — is standing by their man.
“We support David,” Scott Sullivan responded Friday when asked if his company, Jh Land LLC, fully supports Rouzer after the congressman challenged the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Jh Land LLC is one part of the Cameron family’s large portfolio of businesses in the Wilmington area and donated $21,200 to Rouzer’s campaign in the most-recent election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission data released Dec. 26.
Another major local supporter for Rouzer, Live Oak Bank, gave no indication that it was changing its donations.
Rouzer is losing the support of several major North Carolina companies, including Bank of America and Duke Power, after they suspended all political donations following the events at the Capitol, in which pro-Trump protesters violently stormed the building as Congress was in the process of certifying the Electoral College votes. When the House was able to reconvene that night, Rouzer was one of the 139 representatives and eight senators who voted to overturn the presidential election outcome even though each state had certified its results.
While some companies, such as Walmart, General Electric and Verizon, pulled their financial support only from the members of Congress who tried to block the election results, Bank of America and Duke Power were among those that stopped all political donations — at least temporarily.
“For upcoming elections, we will take into account the appalling events of Jan. 6 before making any PAC decisions regarding those members,” Bank of America informed employees who have contributed to the company’s PAC.
Bank of America was Rouzer’s 12th-largest donor in the last cycle, with $11,451 in donations.
Duke Power was the congressman’s 32nd-largest donor at $9,000.
Rouzer also is losing his second-largest contributor: tobacco giant Altira Group (formerly Philip Morris), which is suspending all political donations. The Richmond, Va.-based company gave Rouzer $17,800 over the 2019-20 campaign cycle.
Contacted Saturday about the loss of donors, Rouzer issued the following statement through his press secretary:
“Under the First Amendment, employees and the management of a company have the right to give — or not to give — to any candidate for any reason. What a PAC chooses to do has no influence on my decisions. My votes are based on principle and conviction — not donations.”
Campaign donations are regulated by a complex web of rules and the money comes to candidates through many different avenues.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which runs the campaign finance website OpenSecrets.org, the corporations themselves do not donate. Rather, the money comes from political action committees (PACs) they have established, from employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families.
Not all donations to a candidate go in the same bucket. Some contributions are directed to an actual campaign fund, while others are made to a Leadership PAC, which the Federal Election Commission defines as a “political committee that is directly or indirectly established, financed, maintained or controlled by a candidate or an individual holding federal office.”
Leadership PAC fund expenses are not allowed by campaign committees or congressional offices, such as travel to raise a politician’s profile, according to the Open Secrets website. Elected officials also can donate money from their Leadership PAC to their colleagues or other candidates.
For example, a donor seeking to influence regulations on the timber industry might give money to their own congressman’s Leadership PAC with the intention for it to be used to gain favor with another congressman who holds sway on the timber issue.
The top donors to Rouzer’s Leadership PAC in 2019-20 were Jh Land LLC ($10,000), National Chicken Council ($7,500) and Lowe’s Companies ($6,000). Lowe’s said it was evaluating its political contributions and that the events of Jan. 6 would be taken into consideration.
The biggest donor to Rouzer’s official campaign fund was another well-known local organization, Live Oak Bank, which donated $16,850. About $12,000 of that came from Live Oak employees and $5,000 from the company’s political action committee. Live Oak made no donations to Rouzer’s Leadership Pact.
Live Oak head of corporate communications Claire Parker released the following statement Friday morning:
“In the wake of the riots on Capitol Hill last week, many in our industry, and across corporate America, are reconsidering how they provide financial support to elected leaders, and we too are re-examining if and why we give and to whom. We strongly believe in the power of American democracy and condemn any actions that undermine it.
“The focus of Live Oak Bank’s PAC has always been supporting small business owners. While we cannot change past decisions to support specific candidates, we will continue to be purposeful in our actions going forward.”
The following donations were made to Rep. David Rouzer during the 2019-20 election cycle:
1. Live Oak Bank $16,850
2. Old Dominion Freight Line $14,300
3. Poovey Law Firm $14,000
4. Altria Group $12,800
5. Bank of America $11,451
6. Bk2 Holdings $11,200
7. Jh Land LLC $11,200
8. Riccobene & Assoc Dentistry $11,200
9. Marcus Foundation $11,198
10. Station Casinos $10,976
1. Jh Land LLC $10,000
2. National Chicken Council $7,500 $0
3. Lowe’s Companies $6,000
4. Altria Group $5,000
5. American Bankers Assn $5,000
6. American Society of Anesthesiologists $5,000
7. National Turkey Federation $5,000
8. North Carolina Farm Bureau $5,000
9. Professional Eye Care $5,000
10. Sea Scape Properties $5,000
11. Southland Amusement & Vending $5,000
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