Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been reminded of his support for the Citizens United decision after he warned big corporations to “stay out of politics” as they condemned a controversial new voting law in Georgia.
The Kentucky Republican said it was “simply not true” and a “big lie” to call the new voting law racist or a return to the Jim Crow-era restrictions on minority communities.
Georgia’s new voting law tightens restrictions on absentee ballot; makes it illegal for election officials to issue absent ballot papers to everyone on the electoral roll; threatens a prosecution against those who distribute water and food at polling stations; and gives the state legislature greater control over the Georgia Electoral Commission.
He called on companies to “stay out of politics”
McConnell issued a statement on the voting law: “It is appalling to see powerful American institutions not only allow themselves to be bullied, but participate in the bullying themselves.”
A number of commentators responded to the Republican leader’s remarks by reminding him of his support for the Citizens United decision, which allowed companies, unions and other external groups to spend unlimited sums on elections.
“Mitch McConnell knows that companies are not human – that’s why he’s so quick to silence them,” the End Citizens United campaign tweeted on Sunday. “He only considers them ‘people’ when he casts their checks and sees their dark money ads in support of his voter and gridlock campaign.”
Attorney Ted Boutrous also said the Citizens United decision backed by McConnell gave companies “full rights to the first change in policy.”
“Mitch McConnell basically says that the actual corporate policy speech on important issues can and should be uttered by the government, but the corporate cash contribution to him and others is speech that needs to be protected by the first amendment,” he tweeted. “It’s pointless.”
Former Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill (D) also said it was “funny” that McConnell was opposed to companies getting involved in politics after backing a Supreme Court ruling that allowed them to use unlimited funds for elections.
“He desperately wants companies to be people (see Citizens United) with rights to first change when it comes to campaign cash … just not for any other kind of speech,” she tweeted.
In connection with a round table incident in 2011, McConnell said the Citizens United decision “equalized the rules of the game” between newspaper owners and other companies that wanted to have an influence on politics.
“All Citizens United did was basically level the playing field for corporate America and for union America and say you like that a media company … can independently express your views on anything in this country,” he said at the time. “Why shouldn’t everyone be free to do so?”