Mitch McConnell wants corporate America to stay out of politics—unless it involves donations

April 6, 2021, 8:36 PM UTC

Republicans are unhappy with the amount of political influence corporations have in U.S. politics and are weighing tax hikes as punishment. 

Yes, this is the same GOP that supported the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the landmark 2010 case that allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts to support or oppose political candidates. And yes, this is the same GOP that voted in favor of lowering the corporate tax rate in 2017 from 35% to 21% and who have been aggressively fighting a proposed increase in the rate to 28%

“My warning to corporate America is to stay out of politics,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday, before adding: “I’m not talking about political contributions.”

The threat came as major corporations like Coca Cola, Delta, and Major League Baseball condemned and pulled their business to protest states with restrictive voting laws. 

The latest backlash over Georgia’s new GOP-authored election laws, which prohibits the distribution of snacks and beverages to voters waiting in line, limits the absentee ballot request period, and bans mobile voting precincts unless in an emergency declared by the governor, caused the MLB to move the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta. 

McConnell accused the MLB and other companies of “economic blackmail” in a statement Monday and warned that they could face “serious consequences” for reacting to the new, restrictive voting laws. 

“From election law to environmentalism to radical social agendas to the Second Amendment, parts of the private sector keep dabbling in behaving like a woke parallel government,” McConnell said in a statement. “Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order.”

Republicans have called for boycotts of these companies and are now encouraging state governments to use their tax codes to punish these corporations. 

Shortly after Delta CEO Ed Bastian called the new Georgia voting laws “unacceptable,” the Georgia House voted to end a fuel tax break for the airline. State senators opted not to pick up the bill, and so the break remained in place. 

Last week, after American Airlines objected to a Texas bill that would alter voting hours and make other changes to the structure of local elections, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick released a lengthy statement condemning the company. “Texans are fed up with corporations that don’t share our values trying to dictate public policy,” he wrote. 

Republicans like Senator Rand Paul are calling for a large-scale boycott of Coca Cola because the company also made it clear that it disapproves of Georgia’s new voting laws. “If they want to boycott us why don’t we boycott them,” Paul said on Fox News Tuesday. “This is the only thing that will teach them a lesson. If Coca-Cola wants to only operate in Democrat states and have only Democrats drink them, God love ’em. We’ll see how well they do when half the country quits drinking Coca-Cola.” 

The shift marks a clear shift in Republican strategy. The party, which has long aligned itself with corporate interests, is now sending a message to big business: We support you, but only if you support us. The message has perhaps always been there, but spoken in hushed tones. Now, it’s as clear as a Times Square billboard.

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