Within a few days of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, a handful of prominent companies said they would pause political contributions to congressional Republicans who voted to reject President Joe Biden's victory. As regular readers may recall, many others soon followed -- including Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal, which owns MSNBC (my employer).
The shift did not go unnoticed. Stuart Stevens, a longtime Republican strategist, told the New Yorker that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in particular, was "scared to death" of corporate America's response to the insurrectionist violence.
The question, of course, was how long the pause would last.
In April, JetBlue was among the first to open its corporate wallet, making a contribution through the airline's corporate political action committee to Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) -- who, like most House Republicans, opposed certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election, even after the deadly insurrectionist attack. Soon after, major defense contractors also resumed support for the GOP's anti-election wing.
But relying on data from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Axios reported this morning that one company stands out as being especially generous toward Republicans who took a stand against their own country's democracy.
Nearly three-dozen corporate PACs have donated at least $5,000 to Republicans who objected to certifying the 2020 election, yet Toyota leads by a substantial margin.... Toyota gave more than twice as much — and to nearly five times as many members of Congress — as the No. 2 company on the list, Cubic Corp., a San Diego-based defense contractor.
In a written statement, a spokesperson for the automaker said, "We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification."
It's a flawed defense. The bare minimum of public service in the United States should include respect for election results, and it's a test these Republicans failed.
Toyota's spokesperson added, however, that the company is being judicious: "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."
That sounds like a step in the appropriate direction, though Toyota did not offer any specifics about the company's "review" or who failed to meet the threshold.
We know, for example, that Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who reportedly helped organize the pre-riot "Stop the Steal" rally on Jan. 6, and who opposed Congressional Gold Medals to honor Capitol Police officers who protected the building during the pro-Trump riot, was among those who benefited from Toyota's money.
Evidently, under Toyota's "review," the far-right Arizonan didn't quite demonstrate an indifference toward "the legitimacy of our elections."
It's worth emphasizing for context that the amount of money at issue here is relatively modest: Toyota has donated $55,000 to 37 GOP objectors so far this year. To the typical American family, $55,000 is certainly a lot of money, but in the world of campaign financing, especially at the federal level, it's a small drop in an enormous bucket.
But the more Toyota feels comfortable supporting anti-election Republicans, the more others are likely to follow, removing another layer of accountability for those who chose to defy democracy without remorse.