Corporate America took the days following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol to reflect on its role in politics, with many firms rethinking their positions on making political donations. Brokerage business Charles Schwab took one of the boldest steps, announcing it would shutter its corporate political action committee, through which the company had donated to various federal campaigns. “A clear and apolitical position is in the best interests of our clients, employees, stockholders and the communities in which we operate,” the company said in a statement.
But Charles Schwab, the man, had another idea. A dedicated Republican donor, who remains chairman of the firm he founded, Schwab has for years given more money out of his own pocket than his company gives out of its PAC. So while the company dropped its donations from $69,000 during the first quarter of 2020 to $0 this year, Schwab and his wife Helen donated even more this year, handing out at least $780,000 between January and March.
Some of the beneficiaries were lawmakers who refused to certify the election results. In March, Schwab donated $266,300 to the McCarthy Victory Fund, a joint-fundraising committee that supports House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, one of 139 representatives who voted against certifying Biden’s victory. That was the largest single contribution made to McCarthy’s PAC during the first three months of 2021.
Schwab also donated $255,500 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a group chaired by Senator Rick Scott of Florida, one of eight senators to vote against certifying the election results. And his wife Helen gave $266,300 to a committee supporting Republican representatives in the House, including at least two dozen lawmakers who voted against certifying President Biden’s win.
Even though those donations were inconsistent with the policies of the brokerage firm, where the tycoon made his $11.2 billion fortune, they were in line with Schwab’s previous personal giving. In 2019 and 2020, the mogul and his wife donated $21.2 million to federal candidates, committees and super-PACs supporting Republicans running for Congress—enough for Schwab to qualify as one of the top 20 billionaire donors in the country last year.
“Every individual in our firm has a right to their own, individual political beliefs and we respect that right. Their individual beliefs or contributions do not represent the position of the firm as a whole,” said a company spokesperson in a statement. “Like every Schwab employee, our chairman’s personal political activities are his own, and are separate from The Charles Schwab Corporation and its subsidiaries.”