Toyota on Thursday tried to claw back its defense of its donations to Republican lawmakers who voted to challenge the 2020 presidential election results. The company had initially leaned in on its decision amid public outrage over the move.
In a statement issued Thursday, Toyota said that its PAC “equally supports Democrats and Republicans running for Congress” and offered up the observation that most of its donations this year went to lawmakers who voted to certify Joe Biden’s electoral victory on Jan. 6.
“We understand that the PAC decision to support select Members of Congress who contested the results troubled some stakeholders,” Toyota said. “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.”
Last week, data compiled by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington showed that Toyota had given more than any other corporation this year to lawmakers who worked to undermine the election process by voting to challenge Biden’s electoral victory.
Jordan Libowitz, CREW communications director, on Thursday praised Toyota’s decision to halt donations to lawmakers who contested the election results.
“We’re thankful that Toyota has seen the light and will stop donating to members of the Sedition Caucus,” Libowitz said in a statement shared with TPM. “It shouldn’t take a public pressure campaign to get them to do the right thing, but we’re glad it worked.”
According to CREW, Toyota donated $55,000 to 37 Republican lawmakers who objected to the election results on Jan. 6. That meant that Toyota had donated more than twice as much — and to nearly five times as many candidates — as the next leading corporation, defense contractor Cubic Corp.
News of Toyota’s donations to the so-called sedition caucus were met with backlash. Owners of Toyota cars took to social media and signaled their intention to boycott the company.
Toyota, however, initially stood by its donations to lawmakers.
“Toyota supports candidates based on their position on issues that are important to the auto industry and the company. We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification,” a Toyota spokesperson told Axios.
Toyota then added that after a “thorough review,” the corporation decided against donating to “some members who, through their statements and actions, undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions.”
A Toyota spokesperson did not reply to TPM’s request for clarification of the type of statements or actions that halted their donations at the time.
Toyota’s reversal also comes on the heels of the Associated Press reporting that many corporate giants, which include General Electric and AT&T, have backed off of their initial, post-insurrection promises to halt donations to the GOP lawmakers who voted against certifying Biden’s win by donating to PACs that benefit those lawmakers.