- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday backed down with his demand that companies “stay out of politics.”
- McConnell and other Republicans condemn large corporations for speaking out against Georgia’s restrictive legislation.
- The Republican Kentucky revised its criticism, saying companies “certainly have a right to be involved in politics.”
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday withdrew his call for companies to be “kept out of politics” with the exception of political donations, as large corporations protest Georgia̵
“I did not say that very artistically yesterday,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters about his comments earlier in the week. “They certainly have the right to be involved in politics.”
“My complaint to CEOs is that they should read the damn bill,” he added.
Major League Baseball announced last Friday that it would withdraw its All-Star game from Atlanta in response to Georgia law, which civil rights activists have widely condemned as a racist overthrow campaign. Georgia-based companies, including Coca-Cola, Delta and Home Depot, followed suit, arguing that the voting law was based on the GOP’s lies about voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
On Monday, McConnell struck at companies that speak out against the law. Prominent Republicans have called for boycotts and tax increases on the companies that speak out, labeling the companies as “hypocrites” for continuing to work in authoritarian countries.
“My advice to U.S. executives in the United States is to stay out of politics. Do not pick sides in these big battles,” McConnell said during a news conference Monday. He went on to accuse the companies of behaving like an “awakened alternative government” and warned that they could become “a means for left-wing furniture to hijack our country outside the constitutional order.”
But after critics pointed out that McConnell at the same time strongly supports the company’s political speech in the form of donations to politicians, the legislature clarified that there were exceptions to his new mandate.
“I’m not talking about political contributions,” he told reporters Tuesday. “I’m talking about taking a stand on a very burning issue like this and punishing a society or a state because you don’t like a particular law they passed. I just think it’s stupid.”
McConnell, a top recipient of corporate donations, is one of the GOP’s most obvious opponents of the campaign funding reform. He has long argued that companies have rights to first amendment and that corporate donations are protected political speech.