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Column: Boeing is back to funding Republicans who promoted the Big Lie. Is sedition a corporate value?

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., shown Oct. 23, 2019, who voted to challenge the results of the Electoral College, was among the recipients of major contributions from Boeing's political action committee.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., shown Oct. 23, 2019, who voted to challenge the results of the Electoral College, was among the recipients of major contributions from Boeing's political action committee. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

Guys, I’m a little worried about our neighbor Boeing’s moral compass.

In the wake of the Jan. 6 domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Chicago-based defense contractor and manufacturer of big flying thingies (sorry about the fancy aerospace lingo) joined other major corporations in halting political contributions.

On Jan. 13, the jet-building behemoth released this statement: “We continuously assess our political action committee contributions to ensure that Boeing supports those who reflect our company’s values. Boeing strongly condemns the violence, lawlessness and destruction that took place in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Given the current environment, we are not making political contributions at this time. We will continue to carefully evaluate future contributions to ensure that we support those who not only support our company, but also uphold our country’s most fundamental principles.”

Well, that was about five months ago, and you’ll never guess what happened since then: Many Republican lawmakers and the former president have continued to promote the wholly unfounded Big Lie — a false claim that the 2020 presidential election was somehow “rigged” or “stolen” — which led to the violent attack on the Capitol that left 140 police officers injured.

And guess what else has happened during that time in which nothing has changed and nobody has apologized or admitted wrongdoing or acknowledged the Capitol insurrection is a dark stain on our nation’s history? Boeing again started donating to Republican lawmakers who promoted the Big Lie and voted against a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack!

The resumption of Boeing donations was reported by The Daily Beast:

“In a recent filing with the Federal Election Commission, the defense contractor’s political action committee reported major contributions to three Republican members of Congress who voted to challenge the results of the Electoral College: Rep. Steve Scalise; Rep. Vicky Hartzler; and Rep. Jack Bergman.”

That filing also “disclosed a $25,000 gift to the Republican Attorneys General Association, whose fundraising arm helped promote the Jan. 6 rally to ‘stop the steal.’”

I looked at Boeing’s FEC filings and, sure enough, it’s all there. The company, like most large corporations, donates to both Republicans and Democrats and organizations related to each party, playing both sides of the fence. But the resumption of donations to lawmakers who have vocally promoted the lie about the 2020 election, voted against certifying the election results or voted against approving a commission to investigate an egregious attempt to disrupt America’s peaceful transfer of power stands out like a seditious sore thumb.

So I reached out to Boeing to see what was happening with one of Chicago’s biggest corporate names and to ask a few sensible questions.

The first was simple: What has changed that led Boeing to resume donations to these lawmakers?

The second was more specific: “In Boeing’s Jan. 13 statement regarding the suspension of political donations, the company said it wanted ‘to ensure that Boeing supports those who reflect our company’s values’ and ‘ensure that we support those who not only support our company, but also uphold our country’s most fundamental principles.’ Shall I assume that “lying” and “being OK with 140 police officers getting injured during a violent attack aimed at disrupting the peaceful transfer of power” are now part of Boeing’s “values”? Again, nothing has changed since Boeing released its Jan. 13 statement.”

The third question was regarding the $25,000 contribution to the Republican Attorneys General Association. I asked Boeing if promoting a “Stop the Steal” rally is something the company believes helps to “uphold our country’s most fundamental principles”?

Question No. 4 was an obvious one: “At Boeing’s Chicago headquarters, does the employee cafeteria have separate seating areas labeled ‘pro-sedition’ and ‘anti-sedition’?”

Didn’t get an answer on that one, or any of these, so I’ll have to assume there’s only a pro-sedition/anti-sedition seating arrangement in the executive lunch room.

My fifth question was this: “Using the same evidentiary foundation that supports the lie these lawmakers and the Republican Attorneys General Association have yet to disavow, I have heard that Boeing is actually run by deceased former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who is using the company to fulfill his socialist dream of evenly redistributing private jets among ‘the people.’ Can you confirm or deny that lie?”

The final question was logical: “If I was to spread the lie mentioned in Item No. 5 and then run for office without disavowing that lie, could I count on a generous campaign donation from Boeing?”

No response, but I’ll assume the answer is yes, given Boeing’s current political donation activity, which seems amenable to large, preposterous lies.

Republicans are clearly banking on Americans and corporations like Boeing moving on from what happened on Jan. 6, when hordes of screaming Trump supporters ransacked the halls of the U.S. Capitol, assaulted police officers and chanted their desire to hang the vice president.

We can’t let that happen. This was a shameful assault on our democracy, and those who fomented the attack have neither admitted their complicity nor faced punishment, unlike the hundreds of attackers now locked up or facing federal charges.

Boeing and other corporations should know that people who watched the attack unfold and have since heard injured offices and their families plead for an investigation are still paying attention. If you’d like to let Boeing officials know that, the company’s main number is 312-544-2000.

Just ask to speak with dead Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. I heard a pretty well-sourced lie that he’s running things over there.

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