Mitch McConnell Recalls Citizens United Endorsement After Warning To CEOs

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was reminded of his support for the Citizens United ruling after warning big business to “stay out of politics” by denouncing a controversial new voting law in Georgia.

The Kentucky Republican said it is “just not true” and a “big lie” to call the new voting law racist or a return to Jim Crow-era restrictions on minority communities.

Georgia’s New Voting Law Tightens Restrictions on Absentee Voting; makes it illegal for election officials to mail absentee ballots to everyone on the voters list; threatens a misdemeanor against those who distribute food and water in polling stations; and gives the state legislature greater control over the Georgia Board of Elections.

He called on companies to “stay out of politics” as Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines criticized the policy along with other companies. Major League Baseball also announced that it would move the 2021 All-Star Game to be held in Atlanta.

Issuing a statement on the voting law, McConnell said: “It is astonishing to see that powerful American institutions not only allow themselves to be intimidated, but join them.”

Several commenters reacted to the Republican leader’s comments by reminding him of their support for the Citizens United ruling that allowed corporations, unions and other outside groups to spend unlimited sums on elections.

“Mitch McConnell knows that corporations are not people, which is why he is so quick to silence them,” the End Citizens United campaign tweeted on Sunday. “He only considers them ‘people’ when he cashes their checks and sees their dark money ads in support of his voter suppression and paralysis campaign.”

Attorney Ted Boutrous similarly said that the McConnell-backed Citizens United ruling gave corporations “full First Amendment rights in politics.”

“Mitch McConnell is basically saying that actual corporate political speech on important issues can and should be muzzled by the government, but corporate cash contributions to himself and others are speech that should be protected by the First Amendment,” he tweeted. “That’s silly.”

Former Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) also said it was “funny” that McConnell opposed corporations getting involved in politics after backing a Supreme Court ruling that allowed them to spend unlimited funds on elections.

“He desperately wants corporations to be people (see Citizens United) with First Amendment rights when it comes to campaign cash … but not for any other kind of speech,” he tweeted.

Speaking at a panel discussion in 2011, McConnell said the Citizens United ruling “leveled the playing field” between newspaper owners and other corporations who wanted a voice in politics.

“All Citizens United did basically was level the playing field for American business and for the United States union, and say that, as a media company, you can … independently express your views on anything in this country, “he said at the time. “Why shouldn’t everyone be free to do that?”

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks during a hearing before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee on March 24, 2021.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

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