DETROIT (AP) – Toyota has rolled back and now says its political action committee will no longer contribute to Republican lawmakers who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
The Japanese automaker’s move comes after a social media backlash over contributions, including threats to stop buying the company’s vehicles.
“We understand that the PAC’s decision to support select members of Congress who questioned the results concerned some stakeholders,” Toyota said in a statement Thursday. “We are actively listening to our stakeholders and, at this time, we have decided to stop contributing to members of Congress who challenged the certification of certain states in the 2020 election.”
Last week, the Axios website reported that Toyota led companies in donations to the 147 members of Congress who voted in January against certifying the election results on the false argument that the elections were stolen from the then president. Donald Trump.
The Axios report, based on data collected by Citizens for Accountability and Ethics in Washington, said Toyota donated $ 55,000 to 37 Republican objectors this year. That number was more than double the amount donated by the second-highest donor, Cubic Corp., a defense contractor in San Francisco, Axios said.
Toyota will not seek refunds for contributions it has already made, spokesman Scott Vazin said in an email Thursday. He said the company has not decided whether or when it will resume contributions.
Immediately after the Toyota spending was reported, the company defended it, saying it did not believe it was appropriate to judge lawmakers based solely on their voter certification vote.
The company received information from employees and government officials, Vazin said. But the most important factor was customer feedback, he said. “That really drives our decision making,” he said.
Contribution data showed that 34 companies donated at least $ 5,000 to the leadership campaigns and political action committees of one or more election objectors this year, Axios reported.
In addition to the criticism on Twitter and elsewhere, the Lincoln Project, a group that opposes Trump, launched an ad online urging people to call Toyota to stop the company from contributing to Republican members of Congress.
Shortly after the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol, dozens of large companies, citing their commitment to democracy, pledged to avoid donating money to the 147 legislators. It was a surprising gesture from some of the most familiar names in business, but it was largely empty.
Six months later, many of those companies have resumed funneling cash to political action committees that benefit legislators’ electoral efforts, whether they oppose voter certification or not.
Walmart, Pfizer, Intel, General Electric and AT&T are among the companies that announced their promises in the name of democracy in the days after Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill in a violent attempt to disrupt the transfer of power. Companies claim that donating directly to a candidate is not the same as donating to a supporting PAC.
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