McConnell wants corporations to 'stay out of politics' — but keep giving him money

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Sen. Mitch McConnell has been threatening companies that speak out against GOP voter suppression efforts.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday issued yet another warning to companies, telling them they should not speak out about Republican lawmakers' attempts to make it harder for people to vote.

"My warning, if you will, to corporate America is to stay out of politics," McConnell said. "It's not what you're designed for."

But not one minute later, McConnell added that staying out of politics does not mean companies should shut off the pipeline of campaign contributions that McConnell and the GOP rely on.

"I'm not talking about political contributions," McConnell said. "Most of 'em contribute to both sides, they have Political Action Committees, that's fine, it's legal, it's appropriate, I support that. I'm talking about taking a position on a highly incendiary issue like this, and punishing a community or a state because you don't like a particular law that passed, I just think it's stupid."

Companies in recent weeks have faced pressure from voting rights and civil rights activists to take a stand on the spate of voter suppression legislation making its way through GOP-controlled legislatures — all of it based on the lie Donald Trump and his Republican allies pushed of a stolen and fraudulent election.

In the wake of that pressure, Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola issued forceful statements condemning the Georgia law — which makes voting harder in a litany of ways — calling it "unacceptable" and based on the "lie" of voter fraud. In fact, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency confirmed that the 2020 election "was the most secure in American history."

Major League Baseball took it a step further by pulling the 2021 All-Star Game from Georgia in protest of state's new law — a move polling suggests is popular with baseball fans.

But its angered Republicans like McConnell, who on Monday issued his first threat for companies to stop speaking out against the voter suppression law Georgia passed, as well as the voter suppression law Texas' GOP-controlled state Legislature is pushing toward passage.

Other GOP lawmakers like South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan and Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah are seeking retribution against the MLB by threatening to revoke its antitrust exemption. And Republicans in the Georgia state House attempted to pull a tax break for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines in retaliation for their comment speaking out against Georgia's voter suppression law.

Ultimately, McConnell and the Republican Party are heavily reliant on money from corporate donors in elections.

McConnell alone took in nearly $3.7 million from corporate Political Action Committees in the 2020 cycle, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. And according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Republicans got 57% of corporate PAC donations in the 2020 campaign cycle.

But activists are increasingly turning to corporate America to help pressure Republicans into reversing their stances or dropping their blockades of popular legislation on gun control and voting rights, as well as trying to get Republicans to reverse discriminatory bills targeting the LGBTQ community.

That kind of pressure worked in 2017 to get North Carolina's GOP-controlled Legislature to amend a discriminatory anti-transgender bathroom bill. It also worked 2015 when Indiana removed anti-LGBTQ language from a "religious freedom" law.

Meanwhile, gun control advocates have helped push major companies like Wal-Mart and Dicks Sporting Goods to amend their gun sale policies, as Republicans hold up background check bills.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.