Toyota is finally halting donations to lawmakers who voted against certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win in January.
The decision to reverse its stance on donations comes after the automaker was targeted by the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump political action committee founded by former GOP strategists. The PAC is currently focusing on companies that donated to lawmakers who refused to certify the election.
The automaker released a statement July 8 saying it is “committed to supporting and promoting actions that further our democracy.”
The company says it has long-standing relationships with lawmakers across the political spectrum, especially those representing its U.S. operations, which includes its U.S. headquarters in Plano, Texas and manufacturing plants in Princeton, Indiana (Toyota Sienna, Sequoia and Highlander); Georgetown, Kentucky (Toyota RAV4, Camry and Avalon); Blue Springs, Mississippi (Toyota Corolla) and San Antonio, Texas (Toyota Tacoma and Tundra).
“Our bipartisan PAC equally supports Democrats and Republicans running for Congress,” the company says. “In fact, in 2021, the vast majority of the contributions went to Democrats and Republicans who supported the certification of the 2020 election.”
The company said it recognized that its decision to support select lawmakers 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,” according to the statement.
After the automaker’s reversal, The Lincoln Project tweeted that Toyota “made the right choice. They put democracy ahead of transactional politics. We hope that the rest of Corporate America will follow their lead.”
Longtime customers expressed anger on social media several weeks ago when news of the continued donations was first reported. Several vowed to no longer buy Toyota vehicles. Jennifer Taub tweeted “Hey @Toyota! My family owns two Priuses (or Prii). One is ten years old and ready for a replacement. We won’t purchase another Toyota again. Have a nice day.” The tweet received thousands of “likes," “retweets” and comments in agreement.
The car company (with several manufacturing plants in prominent Republican Senator Mitch McConnell's home state of Kentucky, notes the Daily Kos) had given $55,000 to 37 of the insurrectionist lawmakers so far this year.
“That dwarfs the donations of the remaining corporate donations—it's more than double what the number two company, Cubic Corp., has given this year,” per the Daily Kos. “That puts them in league with the likes of Koch Industries, telecom giant AT&T, health insurer Cigna and tobacco company Reynolds American for resuming donations to insurrectionists, but Toyota still leads.”
Toyota originally said it did not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification. A total of 147 Congress members voted against certifying the 2020 election. On Jan. 6, the same day as the certification, pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol Building aiming to stop the formal counting of Electoral College votes.
The automaker previously shared a statement with news organizations that contradicted its actions.
"Based on our thorough review, we decided against giving to some members who, through their statements and actions, undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions,” a Toyota spokesperson said.
However, the company continued to donate to Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, who reportedly was one of the four behind plotting the insurrection, according to Axios.
Nearly three dozen corporate PACs donated at least $5,000 to Republicans who objected to certifying the 2020 election, with Toyota leading by a substantial margin, according to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.