Toyota said on Thursday that it would stop contributing to members of Congress who contested the certification of the 2020 election results, following a backlash that included a new ad from the Lincoln Project.
“We understand the PAC decision to support select members of Congress who contested the results troubled some stakeholders,” the company said in a statement. “We are actively listening to our stakeholders and, at. this time, we have decided to stop contributing to members of Congress who contested the certification of certain states in the 2020 election.”
The Lincoln Project debuted a new ad earlier on Thursday in which it targeted Toyota’s donations, part of a strategy to point out corporate donors to politicians who backed the challenge to the electoral vote results.
“Why would Toyota support politicians who try to overthrow the very system that’s been so profitable for them?” a narrator in the spot said, characterizing the automaker as the larger corporate donor to politicians who “voted to overturn the election results.”
The Lincoln Project started as a group of never-Trump Republicans whose political action committee took off following a series of provocative ads with the goal of ousting the then-president from office. They drew contributions even from staunch liberals in entertainment, but ran into controversy earlier this year when a number of men accused one of its co-founders, John Weaver, of sending them sexually provocative messages. He had taken a leave of absence from the organization last summer.
This week, Democratic strategist Joe Trippi announced that he was joining the group, with a goal of defeating Republican attempts to retake Congress in 2022, citing what he characterized as the party’s move toward authoritarianism.
The Lincoln Project had planned for the Toyota spot to run online and in local markets. But it said that Comcast’s cable system in Washington rejected the ad because it did not meet their guidelines.
“It is clear Comcast would rather act as a shield for their corporate advertisers than air a factual critique of one of the largest corporations operating in America today,” the Lincoln Project said.
The Lincoln Project said that it was informed that the spot was rejected because it violated a prohibition on spots “of a personal nature, a direct attack on an individual business or comment on a private dispute. Advertisements may be accepted if the attack is on a business that is in the public forum or the issue is one of public concern.”
While the organization argued that the spot was a business in the public forum or public concern, a Comcast spokesperson said that they have run numerous Lincoln Project spots in the past and that the guidelines are evenly applied across all advertisers.
In the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection, Comcast, along with other media companies, said that they would suspend donations to politicians who voted against certifying the results. Since then, Comcast has not given to those lawmakers but has supported the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Congressional Campaign Committee.
Eight Republican senators and 139 House members voted against certifying Biden’s win, even in the aftermath of the riots at the Capitol. In the wake of the attack, Toyota said that it was assessing its giving, but its contributions resumed the next month, according to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
A Lincoln Project spokesperson said that in light of the Toyota announcement, the spot would not air after Thursday.
“Toyota made the right choice today,” the group said. “They put democracy ahead of transactional politics. We hope that the rest of Corporate America will follow their lead — we’ll be there to make sure of it. We’re just getting warmed up.”
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