National Guard members walk at the Capitol, in Washington, U.S., January 15, 2021.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters
A nonprofit tied to Amalgamated Bank is launching a new fund with the intent of capturing donations from corporations that are walking away from giving campaign contributions following the riot on Capitol Hill.
The Amalgamated Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that calls itself nonpartisan, is moving ahead with a new fund titled the Democracy Reinvestment Fund. The details of the new effort were first shared with CNBC. The fund focuses on recruiting corporations that have started to reevaluate their future campaign donations in the wake of the January riot on Capitol Hill, that left five dead including a police officer.
The new fund will look to take in corporate donations and use that money to help finance other nonprofit organizations, Anna Fink, the foundation’s executive director, told CNBC. She noted that in 2020, more than $360 million in direct corporate contributions were made to House candidates.
“If we can make even a fraction of that [more than $360 million] to bolster our democracy, the impact would be tremendous,” Fink said in an interview Monday. The foundation’s president is Keith Mestrich, who recently left the bank as its chief executive officer.
“The Fund will serve as a collective platform for corporations who are ready to take a bold stand at this crucial moment in our nation’s history and invest directly in strengthening a reflective democracy,” the group’s proposal said.
The foundation’s website promotes various connections it has to the bank itself. “In coordination with the Amalgamated Bank, we are developing a robust and diverse approach to impact investing including donor-initiated opportunities and unique programs connected to the bank’s investment portfolio,” the website said.
Though Fink did not say which corporations the fund is going to target, a group of companies decided to halt contributions to House and Senate lawmakers who, even after the deadly riot, challenged the electoral results confirming Joe Biden as president. Companies that are pausing contributions to those Republican lawmakers include AT&T, Amazon, Best Buy, Verizon, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Nasdaq.
There are other companies who have said they are reevaluating their overall contributions to both Democrats and Republicans following the riot.
Some allies of the Amalgamated foundation cheered on the development of the new Democracy Reinvestment Fund.
“The Democracy Reinvestment Fund provides an important vehicle for corporations to invest directly in bolstering the conditions that are best for both business and our diverse communities,” Sanjiv Rao, the director of civic engagement and government at the Ford Foundation, said in statement provided to CNBC.
“Corporations must be held accountable for their actions, including their funding of extremist politicians,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change. “The Democracy Reinvestment Fund provides a path forward for corporations to shift to protecting and preserving democracy, not undermining it. Amalgamated Foundation is the ideal partner to build this bridge between corporations and the movement for democracy.”
Even though the fund and the bank itself label themselves as nonpartisan, Amalgamated Bank has often been used by Democratic campaigns as a vendor for their banking needs.
Data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics shows Amalgamated Bank was paid more than $3 million by mostly Democratic campaigns during the 2020 election cycle, including just under $100,000 by Biden’s campaign committee.
Unlike other nonprofits that have similar funds used to finance outside organizations, the Amalgamated Charitable Foundation does disclose its donors.
Its most recent 990 disclosure report provided to CNBC shows that in 2019 the foundation raised more than $22 million, over four times the amount it raised a year prior. Donors in 2019 include $700,000 from a foundation created by billionaire George Soros and $500,000 from the billionaire’s son Gregory Soros. Amalgamated Bank itself gave more than $1 million.
The disclosure report shows the foundation in 2019 made more than $9 million in grants to dozens of groups such as the Alliance for Global Justice and the GroundTruth Project.