For years Wall Street has sprinkled money all across U.S. politics to make and keep friends in Washington. Now, it's rethinking the consequences.
After the deadly siege on Capitol Hill last week, major banks are reassessing, reducing and in many cases suspending their campaign contributions. Some are vowing to pull back from candidates who appeared to support the attempted insurrection.
The moves represent a sharp break with the past and come as leaders across corporate America are rushing to distance themselves from President Donald Trump. Big business largely embraced Mr. Trump's efforts to cut taxes and roll back regulations despite, in some cases, reservations about his personal character. That's changing in the wake of the violent attack last week.
"A lot of business people don't want to get involved because they don't want to bring politics to the workplace," said Tom Glocer, Morgan Stanley's lead independent director. "This goes beyond the politics."
Morgan Stanley singled out members of Congress who opposed the move to certify President-elect Joe Biden's election win, pausing its contributions to them. Goldman Sachs Group will probably curtail donations to leaders who tried to block the election result as well. J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup took a broader swipe, suspending all their donations for now.
Stopping short of such steps, Bank of America Corp. said it will take recent events into consideration before any future donations. And Wells Fargo & Co. said it's still reviewing its policies on political giving.
The biggest U.S. banks contributed about $5.7 million via political action committees in the 2020 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Some of the industry's backlash to the violence singled out Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who supported Mr. Trump's claims that his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden was the result of fraud. Mr. Hawley was seen Wednesday saluting protesters with a fist pump before they stormed the Capitol.
Mr. Glocer said he was particularly alarmed by the actions of Mr. Hawley, a fellow Yale Law School graduate. "That drove me beyond the pale," Mr. Glocer said.
Candi Wolff, Citigroup's head of global government affairs, said the bank gave $1,000 to Mr. Hawley's 2019 campaign, adding that the New York-based company has a sizable employee presence in Mr. Hawley's home state.
"We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law," Ms. Wolff said in a memo to employees.