Walgreen Co., which runs the Walgreens drugstore chain, told Business Insider in January 2021 that it would pause giving to the 147 lawmakers who opposed Biden’s certification. Walgreens did not say at the time how long it would pause giving.
During the 2021-2022 election cycle, Walgreen's political action committee has given at least $13,000 to eight Republican House candidates who opposed Biden’s certification as president, according to political contributions tracker Open Secrets.
Walgreen’s PAC has also given to Senate candidates, none of whom opposed Biden’s certification. The PAC has contributed $121,750 to federal candidates during the 2021-2022 election cycle, roughly 49% of which went to Democrats and 51% of which went to Republicans, according to Open Secrets.
A Walgreens representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Corporations around the country made similar pledges following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. Some paused political giving altogether, and have subsequently restarted their contributions. Chicago-based Boeing is an example. The company's PAC resumed giving to federal candidates after three months.
With the country being so polarized on election outcomes, it’s difficult for a company to do anything in Washington without upsetting one side of the political spectrum or another, said Brayden King, professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. That’s why many companies give roughly 50% of their contributions to Democrats and Republicans.
Ultimately, Walgreens likely won’t want its reputation threatened over something it has done, King said. Boycotts rarely change consumer habits the way one might expect, but companies do pay attention to them.
“The boycott is much more effective at galvanizing public attention than it is at shaping consumer choices,” he said. “It seems unlikely this is going to have a big impact on Walgreen’s short-term bottom line, but that doesn’t mean Walgreens won’t take it seriously.”
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One reason why boycotts tend not to mobilize consumers is because there are rarely better alternatives, King said. That might not be the case when it comes to Walgreen's political giving.
Archrival CVS Health’s PAC has donated $251,000 to federal candidates this election cycle, more than 58% of which went to Democrats, according to Open Secrets. None of the Republicans it contributed to opposed Biden’s certification.
Walgreens said in a statement to Business Insider last year that it "holds in high regard the role of government and the peaceful transition of power that is core to our democracy. As such, our political action committee suspended contributions to members of Congress who voted to object the certification of U.S. electoral college votes."
It continued: "As Walgreens continues to deliver the essential testing and vaccinations that will help America end the COVID-19 pandemic, we value the importance of unity as a means for addressing the many challenges we face together as one great nation."
Here are the House candidates who opposed Biden’s certification that Walgreen’s PAC has contributed to this election cycle, according to Open Secrets:
$3,000 to Tom Rice (R-SC)
$2,500 to Buddy carter (R-Ga)
$2,500 to Ron Estes (R-Kan)
$1,000 to Neal Dunn (R-Fla)
$1,000 to Richard Hudson (R-NC)
$1,000 to Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla)
$1,000 to Greg Steube (R-Fla)
$1,000 to Jackie Walorski (R-Ind)