Toyota said it would cut donations to Republicans trying to undo Joe Biden’s election victory after a weeks-long public pressure campaign forced the automaker to perform an abrupt U-turn.
The company came under fire after figures showed that the Corporate Political Action Committee (PAC) had donated more money to Republican lawmakers who voted against certifying Biden’s election college victory than any other.
Toyota’s political arm donated $56,000 to 38 Republican members of Congress who voted in January to ditch the results, according to an analysis of fundraising data collected last month by Washington’s Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics watchdog group.
Toyota initially responded to Crew’s analysis by saying it did not consider it appropriate to judge members of Congress based on their election certification alone, but the company changed its stance on Thursday.
“We understand that the PAC’s decision to support selected members of Congress who contested the results alarmed some stakeholders,” Toyota said.
The company added, “We are actively listening to our stakeholders and have decided at this time to stop contributing to those members of Congress who contested the certification of certain states in the 2020 elections.”
Jordan Libowitz, communications director at Crew, said: “We are grateful Toyota has seen the light and will stop donating to members of the incendiary caucus. It shouldn’t take a public pressure campaign to get them to do the right thing, but we are glad it worked.”
Toyota is one of several companies that have been criticized for donating to Republicans who voted against Biden’s election victory just hours after mobs of Donald Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, leaving several people dead. A total of 147 lawmakers, including eight senators, voted against certification.
Ahead of Toyota’s U-turn on Thursday, The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump PAC founded by Republicans in the run-up to last year’s election, released a new advertising campaign urging customers to boycott the automaker.
“It’s time to call Toyota management,” one narrator said in the ad. “If they don’t rethink where they send their money, Americans will rethink where we send ours.”
The Lincoln Project — which has revised its leadership and strategy in the wake of sexual harassment and financial scandals — has said it will roll out similar ads targeting other companies that donate to lawmakers who voted against the certification of the election result.
“Toyota made the right choice today,” said The Lincoln Project after the automaker reversed its stance. “They put democracy above transaction politics. We hope the rest of corporate America will follow suit.”
Several major companies, including Facebook, Microsoft and JPMorgan Chase, said they would withdraw or review political donations in the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 riots, while some companies specifically said they would not give to Republicans objecting to certification.
But in recent months, corporate money has been trickling back into the Republican coffers, including from the political arm of companies like Cigna, Intel and T-Mobile. Fundraising is expected to increase further ahead of next year’s midterm elections, when both houses of Congress are up for grabs.