Toyota said it would halt donations to Republicans who tried to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory after a weeks-long public pressure campaign forced the carmaker to perform an abrupt U-turn.
The company had been under fire after figures showed its corporate political action committee (PAC) had donated more money to Republican lawmakers who voted against certifying Biden’s electoral college victory than any other.
Toyota’s political giving arm donated $56,000 to 38 Republican members of Congress who voted to throw out the results in January, according to an analysis of fundraising data compiled last month by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group.
Toyota initially responded to Crew’s analysis by saying it did not believe it was appropriate to judge members of Congress based on their electoral certification vote alone, but the company changed its stance on Thursday.
“We understand that the PAC decision to support select members of Congress who contested the results troubled some stakeholders,” Toyota said.
The company added: “We are actively listening to our stakeholders and, at this time, have decided to stop contributing to those members of Congress who contested the certification of certain states in the 2020 election.”
Jordan Libowitz, communications director at Crew, said: “We’re thankful that Toyota has seen the light and will stop donating to members of the sedition caucus. It shouldn’t take a public pressure campaign to get them to do the right thing, but we’re glad it worked.”
Toyota is among several corporations that have been criticised for donating to Republicans who voted against certifying Biden’s election victory, just hours after mobs of Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol and left several people dead. In total, 147 lawmakers, including eight senators, voted against certification.
Before Toyota’s U-turn on Thursday, The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump PAC founded by Republicans in the run-up to last year’s elections, released a new advertising campaign calling on customers to boycott the carmaker.
“It’s time to call Toyota’s corporate leadership,” said a narrator in the ad. “If they don’t reconsider where they send their money, Americans will reconsider where we send ours.”
The Lincoln Project — which has sought to overhaul its leadership and strategy following sexual harassment and financial scandals — has said it will roll out similar ads targeting other companies that donate to lawmakers who voted against certifying the election result.
“Toyota made the right choice today,” The Lincoln Project said after the carmaker reversed its position. “They put democracy ahead of transactional politics. We hope that the rest of corporate America will follow their lead.”
Several large companies, including Facebook, Microsoft and JPMorgan Chase, said they would pull or review political donations in the immediate aftermath of the January 6 riot, while some companies specifically said they would not give to Republicans who objected to certification.
But corporate money has begun trickling back into Republican coffers in recent months, including from the political giving arms of companies such as Cigna, Intel and T-Mobile. Fundraising is expected to increase further ahead of next year’s midterm elections when both chambers of Congress will be up for grabs.