Opinion: Toyota's Political Giving Encourages the Big Lie

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
opinion toyota s political giving encourages the big lie

A report from Axios shows that Toyota has given $55,000 to 37 Republican politicians who objected to the certification of Joe Biden’s election as president of the United States.

That’s about a quarter of the number of GOP pols who voted against certifying Biden’s win.

Axios notes that one of the politicians that the automaker donated to is Andy Biggs, a Republican House representative from Arizona who was a driving force behind the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the insurrection in Washington on January 6.

When Axios asked about it, an unnamed Toyota spokesman answered in a blitz of bewildering hypocrisy.

“We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification,” Toyota emailed Axios. “Based on our thorough review, we decided against giving to some members who, through their statements and actions, undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions.”

That seems hypocritical to my eyes — or at the very least, it seems like Toyota is trying to have it both ways. You can’t say that you don’t think it appropriate to judge members of Congress only on whether they voted against election certification and then turn around and say you won’t give to SOME members who undermined the legitimacy of elections — since EVERYONE who voted against certification was working to undermine our democracy.

To be clear, this isn’t a partisan position that I am taking. You know by now that your author leans left politically, but I’d be saying the same if it was Democrats voting against the certification of a Republican president based on nonexistent evidence of fraud. I’d also be saying this if I was a conservative and/or Republican (not always the same thing) who was disappointed Biden won.

This isn’t partisan, nor is it a reasonable debate that can be had by opposing sides. It’s about reality, which isn’t up for debate. A certain segment of the GOP ignored reality voted not to certify Joe Biden’s victory for no reason other than an attempt to retain power and/or humor the fringier/crazier elements of the party’s base. There is no evidence of fraud — Joe Biden won and Donald Trump lost, fair and square.

And now Toyota is giving money to 37 of those politicians. It’s unlikely that Toyota, as a company, believes the election was stolen. It’s also unlikely that Toyota prefers the ideology of one party over another — indeed, data from OpenSecrets shows Toyota actually gave more to Democrats than Republicans in 2020. I understand that Toyota’s giving, like that of any other large company, is strategic, meant to influence politicians of both parties into working towards policy that would benefit Toyota and/or the automotive industry as a whole.

I reached out to Toyota and a spokesperson sent this statement, which includes the sentences Axios highlighted: “Toyota’s PAC, by design, is bipartisan in nature and we contribute equally to the Democratic and Republican party. Toyota supports candidates based on their position on issues that are important to the auto industry and the company. We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification. Based on our thorough review, we decided against giving to some members who, through their statements and actions, undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions.”

For better or worse, companies giving to both parties has been the standard operating procedure. Big company X donates to politicians from both sides in order to influence policy out of self-interest. It might seem scummy to those of us who can’t buy influence, but it’s logical and legal.

But things changed in January. A swath of Congress voted to nullify the results of a free and fair election. And they didn’t do so for any good-faith reason — they used evidence-free claims of election fraud in a grab for power and/or to appease an unhinged element of their party’s base. Big corporations should not be rewarding such behavior.

Anyone, Republican or Democrat or Independent, who voted against certifying the election should be professionally punished for attempting to undermine our democracy. Actions have consequences. Companies like Toyota should cast aside self-interest and deny these ghouls the funds they need to stay in power. Continuing to donate just gives them the impression that they can do what they want, no matter how damaging it is to this country, without repercussions.

Sadly, the reality is that when money and morals collide, money often wins out. And Toyota, like any other big company, certainly has reasons to continue to donate to those whose lies helped inspire an insurrection.

It would be better for America, if not necessarily Toyota, if the automaker (and every other company listed in the Axios piece) cut off the seditionists. But considering that the only people being held accountable for their actions are the Joe and Jane Six-packs who got caught infiltrating the Capitol on January 6, I won’t hold my breath for anyone to say “enough is enough” any time soon.

[Image: Toyota]

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2 of 221 comments
  • Cprescott Very expensive all terrain golf cart.
  • 56m65711446 ALL AEB systems should be tested using a SES executive from DoT as the test dummy.
  • TheMrFreeze Wife and I bought just bought new (to us) daily drivers...both have manual transmissions and neither has any kind of "new" safety nanny technology in it. By choice. That's how we roll.
  • IanGTCS Where I live safety inspections are only required when transferring ownership except between spouses. The ministry or police can in theory pull unsafe vehicles off the road but I haven't heard of that happening. Commercial vehicles over a certain weight required annual inspections and I've seen unsafe ones removed from the road a few times. I'm honestly fine with no regular inspections. A ball joint or bearing can go from fine to goodbye wheel in less time than a year anyways. Can't say I see too many total wrecks driving around so it would be kind of pointless.
  • IH_Fever No. I'd rather that money be spent to enforce vehicle laws on an as needed basis. The 10 year old car with a check engine light on for some sensor is a danger to no one. The crapbox with 5 different color body panels, paper tags and saran wrapped windows is more of a concern.