How Ayanna Pressley Gets Corporate PAC Money Without Taking It

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When U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Dorchester) first ran for Congress in 2018, she made a promise.

And she’s kept the promise — sort of …

Pressley pledged that she would not accept corporate PAC money. The Federal Elections Commission’s records show that she has kept that promise to date; a corporate PAC has not donated directly to Pressley’s campaign. 

However, Pressley has benefited from corporate PAC money — indirectly.

Pressley received $10,000 in donations from the Congressional Black Caucus PAC in the 2020 election cycle, the maximum donation allotted from a political action committee. The Congressional Black Caucus donated $5,000 to Pressley on June 19, 2019, and another $5,000 on August 20, 2020.  So while defense contractors, credit card companies, and big tobacco might not cut checks directly to Pressley’s campaign, they donate to a group that donates to Pressley.

Pressley is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. It’s a caucus of black Democrats in Congress.

During the 2020 election cycle, the Congressional Black Caucus PAC raised $13,137,266, according to OpenSecrets.

Some of that money came from defense contractors. The top-five biggest defense contractors in the United States are Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman, according to Bloomberg. While Lockheed Martin’s political action committee donated $10,000 to the Congressional Black Caucus PAC in the 2020 election cycle, the political action committees for Raytheon ($10,000), General Dynamics ($10,000), Boeing ($5,000), and Northrop Grumman ($5,000) also contributed, according to the Federal Elections Commission.

Some of the money came from the tobacco industry. That includes the PACs for Altria Group ($5,000) and Juul Labs ($15,000), Federal Elections Commision records show. Altria Group is the parent company of Philip Morris USA. The company is best-known for producing Marlboro Cigarettes. The tobacco giant also includes the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, which produces both Copenhagen and Skoal dip. Meanwhile, Juul produces electronic cigarettes.

And as far as credit card companies go, Visa ($10,000), Mastercard ($10,000), American Express ($7,500) were all contributors to the Congressional Black Caucus PAC last election cycle, according to the Federal Elections Commission

Pressley took this money from the Congressional Black Caucus PAC despite condemning the influence of corporate PAC money in politics in May 2018.

“From drug companies to health insurers to Wall Street banks, big corporations are spending millions to buy influence in Washington and drown out the voices of regular people,” Pressley said in a statement to The Boston Globe. “The 7th congressional district is among the most unequal districts in America, and if we’re serious about addressing the needs of its working families, we need to say no to corporate influence on our elections, and hold ourselves accountable to the voters of the district.”

Pressley isn’t the only member of Congress from Massachusetts who has accepted a donation from the Black Congressional Caucus PAC.  It gave $5,000 to Representative Richard Neal (D-Springfield) in his re-election bid last year against his more progressive Democratic primary challenger, then-Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse. The political action committee also gave $1,000 to Representative Seth Moulton (D-Salem) in 2014, the Federal Elections Commission shows.

Pressley’s office could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Nor could the Congressional Black Caucus PAC.


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