Opinions are the writer’s own and not those of Blavity's.
By Jade Magnus Ogunnaike, Senior Director at Color Of Change
A recent FEC filing revealed Toyota’s corporate PAC has donated to 39 of the Congressional lawmakers who voted against authorizing the presidential election results. In response, Toyota representatives claim they “do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification.”
This response is completely unacceptable, and at Color Of Change, we’re not letting them off the hook. The fact is, continuing to fund individuals who incited white nationalist violence, spread mass misinformation and attempted to subvert our democracy is intolerable.
Toyota joins corporations like AT&T, T-Mobile, Cigna, Intel and JetBlue that have broken their commitment to stop PAC donations to members of Congress that incited the riot at the Capitol and attempted to subvert the American electoral process. After only a few months since we’ve demanded and monitored these companies’ commitments to halt funding to politicians who contributed to fueling the riot, corporations are already going back to their standard business practices that put Black and other marginalized communities in harm's way.
Many of them believe this kind of backtracking will go unnoticed — but they are very wrong. These corporations must be held accountable, and we’re urging everyone to join us and call these CEOs, telling them to stop funding insurrection-inciters.
Companies cannot say Black lives matter and then continue to fund members of Congress who didn’t just incite the riot on Capitol Hill, but also attempted to do everything in their power to stop Black people from voting and overthrow our votes. These corporate PAC donations are instrumental in keeping these lawmakers in power.
A report from the Center for Responsive Politics shows 30 corporate political action committees gave a total of $37 million over five years to the 147 members of Congress that objected to the election certification. Even with legislation limiting traditional PAC funding, corporations still contribute a large amount of money to the National Republican Congressional Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee and the House Conservatives Fund, all of which directly fund insurrectionist members of Congress. Insurrection-inciter, Blaine Luetkemeyer, for example, gets more than 72% of his political contributions just from corporations. It is imperative to cut off these wayward officials from the committees that serve as their financial life source.
By continuing to support these members of Congress and their rhetoric, we can only predict greater harm will ensue. The insurrection was not an isolated event. In tracking offenses committed by Trump supporters before and after January 6, 2021, we know this kind of violence has the potential to escalate. Inciting lawmakers have since pledged their support for Donald Trump and made threats against other Congresspeople at the Conservative Action Political Conference in February. Since January, Republican lawmakers have proposed more than 360 voter suppression bills in 47 states — an obvious retaliation against Black voter turnout. Missouri Representative Josh Hawley has even called for the breakdown of organizations that oppose the March 25 Georgia Suppression Law.
As these groups are legitimized by Republican elected officials, like Senator Cruz and Representative Hawley, along with the corporations that fund them, like Toyota and JetBlue, we know they will only be emboldened to cause greater harm.
In other words, it’s a matter of when, not if, they’ll strike again.
Every Representative who has fanned the flames with baseless conspiracy theories about elections, every member of Congress who has worked to invalidate the votes of their Black constituents and every elected official who has launched frivolous lawsuits in an attempt to overturn the election has not only betrayed their oath to uphold this country’s Constitution, but has actively compromised the safety of Black people. The corporations that refuse to halt their support for these individuals are just as culpable.
It is time to remind these corporations that we are watching. We need to call Toyota and JetBlue CEOs so they can hear directly from communities that are at the mercy of them funding members of Congress who incited the insurrection.
The commitment of halting PAC donations to any of the 147 treasonous elected officials will not be accepted as a simple, temporary performance. We’ve seen several other corporations, like Disney and Microsoft, hold up their end of the bargain in their commitments of financial withholdings. What makes Toyota or JetBlue any different?
We know these corporations’ financial support is instrumental in keeping potentially dangerous politicians in power — remaining a threat to the Black communities who face the brunt of white nationalist rhetoric. There is no more room for mass misinformation, white nationalist violence and subversion of democracy in Congress — let us remind these corporations that this will not be “business as usual.”