Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Tuesday that it is “stupid” for corporations to take positions on divisive political issues, but noted that his criticisms did not include their political donations.
“So my warning, so to speak, to American businesses is to stay out of politics,” McConnell told reporters at a news conference in Louisville. “This is not what you were designed to do. And don’t be intimidated by the left into accepting causes that place you in the middle of one of the biggest political debates in America.”
McConnell’s comments were the third time he addressed corporate backlash on Georgia’s recently passed voting law, which came in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s campaign of falsehoods about the state’s election result last fall.
At the end of last week, the CEOs of Delta and Coca-Cola, which are based in Atlanta, condemned the new measure. And on Friday, Major League Baseball pulled this year’s All-Star Game from Atlanta in protest of that very law. Instead, that game will be played in Colorado.
The baseball decision sparked the most outrage from Republicans, and Trump called for a boycott of baseball and many other companies that spoke out against Georgia’s law.
“Republicans drink Coke too,” McConnell said Tuesday. “And we fly. And we like baseball. This is a fairly competitive political environment in America, as a 50-50 Senate just pointed out. If I were running a major corporation, I would be out of politics.”
He added that the latest moves are “irritating a lot of Republican fanatics.”
The Georgia episode was just the latest showdown between American corporations and the Republican Party. Earlier this year, several major corporations announced that they would no longer make political donations to anyone who voted against affirming the Electoral College vote count after the deadly January 6 riot on Capitol Hill.
The wider gap is the product of the Republican Party being increasingly driven by “culture war” issues, while businesses are under increased pressure from employees, consumers and advocates to take on voting rights, rights LGBTQ and anti-racist efforts.
McConnell, long a proponent of big money in politics, said that corporations “have the right to participate in a political process” but should do so without alienating “a lot of people.”
“I’m not talking about political contributions,” he said of his criticism of corporate leaders who speak out against the Republican legislation. “Most of them contribute to both sides, they have political action committees, that’s fine. It’s legal, it’s appropriate, I support it. I’m talking about taking a position on a highly inflammatory issue like this and punishing a community or a community. state, because you don’t like a particular law that was passed, I think it’s stupid. “