Now here's something that's worth a fist pump: Toyota Motor Corp. announced Thursday it was halting direct political donations to the 147 Republican members of Congress who voted to overturn the 2020 election.
The move came after the company suffered weeks of blowback for supercharging its donations to GOP lawmakers who had voted against certifying the election results—a clear act of sedition that helped reinforce Donald Trump's baseless lies about the election being stolen. While dozens of corporate political action committees (PACs) have made roughly a half dozen $5,000 donations to GOP seditionists, Toyota had gone above and beyond, showering campaign donations on more than three dozen Republicans who voted against certification. Toyota's giving scheme had first been revealed in a report issued by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Toyota also made the announcement as it was facing the prospect of an ad campaign featuring its fervent support for Republicans who supported the insurrection, according to the Detroit News. The Republican anti-Trump group The Lincoln Project had announced earlier in the day that it planned to release an ad campaign targeting companies that were donating to pro-sedition GOP lawmakers. Toyota was first on its list.
Toyota had originally been part of a cadre of major companies that made high-profile announcements saying they would temporarily halt donations to GOP lawmakers who voted against certification while they reassessed their political giving. Many of those companies have since resumed that giving under the ridiculous rationale that they aren't donating directly to the 147 Republican lawmakers themselves but rather to umbrella PACs that explicitly support reelecting those GOP lawmakers. It's a useless distinction designed by a bunch of people in a board room who assume the public is too dumb to see through it.
Walmart, Pfizer, Intel, General Electric, and AT&T are among companies that made pro-democracy pledges following Jan. 6 and are now defending their donations to pro-GOP PACs working to reelect the Republicans who voted to overthrow U.S. democracy and disrupt the peaceful transition of power.
But Toyota had demonstrated an unmatched brazenness in giving directly to so many anti-democracy Republicans. The Lincoln Project not only released an initial ad but also announced a series of target markets designed to put the squeeze on the company, writes the Detroit News.
The Toyota ad was scheduled to run on Fox Business and CNBC in Plano, Texas, near the company's American headquarters and in New York City, and digitally near the top 20 Toyota dealerships in the U.S. Comcast in Washington, D.C., declined to air the commercial, arguing it didn't meet their guidelines.
Hours later, Toyota had a change of heart.
"Toyota is committed to supporting and promoting actions that further our democracy," the company said in a statement. "We understand that the PAC decision to support select Members of Congress who contested the results troubled some stakeholders. We are actively listening to our stakeholders and, at this time, we have decided to stop contributing to those Members of Congress who contested the certification of certain states in the 2020 election."
Whether Toyota will opt to give to other pro-GOP PACs as other corporations have done is an open question. The company’s previous position had been that it supports candidates "based on their position on issues that are important to the auto industry and the company."
The Lincoln Project subsequently said it would not air the ad and has yet to name new corporate targets. "We hope that the rest of corporate America will follow their lead—we’ll be there to make sure of it," said Lincoln Project spokesperson RC Di Mezzo. "We’re just getting warmed up."