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Sen. Ted Cruz behind Sen. Josh Hawley at a hearing. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Many of America's top businesspeople have had enough of political pandering to the mob, and plan to deny future contributions to those who egged it on.

Why it matters: Senators like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz may have been auditioning for 2024 presidential runs, but have alienated some of those who could have helped fund those campaigns.

Behind the scenes: On Monday night, 36 hours before the insurrection, Yale School of Management professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld invited a group of high-profile CEOs and investors to a virtual meeting at 7am the following morning, to discuss expected congressional objections to the presidential certification process.

  • This was the second such meeting since the election, the first of which was on Nov. 6 after President Trump made clear that he favored conspiracy over concession. The group also met after George Floyd's murder, and has regularly held in-person gatherings over the years, usually with Chatham House rules.
  • One attendee told Axios yesterday morning: "The amount of anger at these 11 senators was more intense than any I can recall directed with so much universality. There is real anger at these people, particularly Hawley and Cruz, that they don't really understand. ... We all know we need public/private partnership to get through this pandemic, and these 11 are doing something they know is wrong, which hurts those efforts, for purely personal reasons."

Sonnenfeld says that polling shows CEOs are currently among America's most trusted institutional voices, and that several urged him to convene the Tuesday meeting.

  • Sources say that one topic of conversation, and agreement, was to no longer financially support congressional election deniers, either directly or indirectly (via PACs, etc). And possibly to support primary challengers.
  • There is some skepticism that participants will stick to this informal and private pledge, but Sonnenfeld expects that outside groups like the Lincoln Project and academics will call public attention to those who stray.
  • He adds that Hawley is in a particularly precarious position, as he has no seniority that would tempt some CEOs to trade principle for access.

The bottom line: Money in politics is a very powerful force. So is withholding it.

Go deeper

Senate Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In a closely divided Congress, the Senate’s Mischief Makers could thwart their leaders' best-laid plans with their own agendas.

Why it matters: On Wednesday night, we shared a list of House members who our leadership sources on the Hill consider some of the top troublemakers. But their Senate counterparts may be even more impactful in a 50-50 chamber, where Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tiebreaking vote.

Updated 4 hours ago - Science

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — the world's largest tree by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. Protection efforts appeared to be working overnight.

4 hours ago - World

Hong Kong holds first "patriots only" elections

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a news conference last Monday. Photo: Lui Siu Wai/Xinhua via Getty Images

Hong Kong's elections to choose the city's Election Committee members opened to a select group of voters on Sunday, under a new "patriots only" system imposed by China's government.

Why it matters: All candidates running to be members of the electoral college have been "vetted" by Beijing, per Reuters. They will go on to choose the Asian financial hub's next leader, approved by China's government, and some of its legislature.