House Majority Whip James Clyburn (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Clyburn’s Corporate Foundation

in Sludge
on May 25, 2021

House Majority Whip James Clyburn has come under fire recently for his corporate backing, particularly the financial support his re-election campaigns have received from the pharmaceutical industry. 

But campaign contributions are just one way that corporate America has directed money to Clyburn-affiliated organizations. According to a review of lobbying contributions filings, which contain information about donations to entities affiliated with members of Congress, dozens of corporations have given a combined more than $1.6 million to the James E. Clyburn Research and Scholarship Foundation over the past decade.

The Foundation gives out more than one hundred small, need-based college scholarships each year, according to its tax filings. It is also a way for the congressman to use his immense political and fundraising power to benefit young people and families, including constituents in his district.

For donors, the fund gives them another way to earn good will with one of the most powerful members of Congress. As House Majority Whip, Clyburn’s job is to mobilize his caucus members to vote for or against bills. 

Many of the foundation’s corporate and trade association donors have affiliated PACs that generally give the legal maximum to Clyburn’s re-election campaigns, including Fluor, Altria, and AT&T. 

Harvard University Professor Cornel West last year called Clyburn “partly an extension of Big Pharma companies.” 

West’s tweet came after a report that found Clyburn had taken more money from pharmaceutical industry PACs over the past decade than any other member of Congress. 

Clyburn was instrumental in the election of Joe Biden as president. His endorsement of Biden days before the South Carolin primary set off a chain of events including Biden’s primary victory in South Carolina, endorsements from former rivals Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, and his strong performance on Super Tuesday. Clyburn also backed the DNC chair selection of Jaime Harrison, a former lobbyist for companies including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Wells Fargo, BP America, and Bank of America.