Toyota has been one of the biggest automakers in the entire world for a long time. Not just in America, their market has been booming internationally. They often lead other manufacturers when it comes to sales figures. On a number of occasions, they have been the highest-selling automaker in the world. Despite their unmatched reliability and reputation, they cannot escape criticism sometimes.
No matter how big they are, they have their fair share of problems. They faced the 2009 accelerator getting stuck scandal, where over 90 people died due to their accelerators getting stuck in their Toyotas or Lexus. They had to pay a billion dollars in settlements. However, it seems like they got themselves into a bit of trouble this time too – donating to Republicans who refused to certify the 2020 election. So, no matter how cool their new Toyota Corolla or Toyota Venza looks, you might want to think twice before purchasing one.
If you have not been living under a rock for the past year, you obviously know who the new President is. In 2020, Biden won by securing 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. Biden won a total of 51.3% of the votes and was rightfully declared the President. However, some Republicans, including Trump himself, claimed that the elections were rigged and that the results were unfair. He demanded the elections be held again and whatnot, but none of that actually happened.
Following this, some Republican members of Congress refused to certify the result of the 2020 election. Mike Pence, the previous Vice President, was among one of the people who actually certified the result of the election. However, Trump said that he could still be in office had Pence rejected the certification. Trump threw a lot of shade on the former Vice President and it caused a lot of problems. The biggest one was the US Capitol riots that even resulted in the death of five people.
Now, news has arrived, according to Axios, that the popular carmaker Toyota had donated a significant amount of money to lawmakers who refused the certification. Toyota was, in fact, the company that donated the most amount of money to the Republicans. As already mentioned, Trump and 147 lawmakers were the ones who voted against the certification.
However, all of this led to no result, as Biden won and he took the seat in the Oval Office. Following this, a lot of debates arose and the ones who opposed the certification were crucified. Members of Congress were demanding action to be taken against these lawmakers. Toyota has continued to donate to them. In fact, they have donated around $55,000 to 37 Republicans. Toyota donated more than double the amount than any other company has donated. They also donated to the highest number of candidates.
What’s probably worse for Toyota is that they later tried to defend their stance in all of this. They said, “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.”
They also further added, “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.” As you might have expected, this did not sit well with other people. Democrats, along with some common folks too, took to Twitter to express their disgust at Toyota for such an action. Some even claimed that they will not be buying any more Toyotas after their act.
After all of this, Toyota has decided to stop donations for those members. After defending the donations, Toyota came out recently, in July, and they made a public statement that they would be stopping their donations to those lawmakers. They mentioned that their decision to support these members of Congress has caused problems for their stakeholders. The Lincoln Project, a Republican Political Action Committee, released a video where they revealed that Toyota had been donating to these lawmakers.
They quoted, “Toyota is committed to supporting and promoting actions that further our democracy. We are actively listening to our stakeholders and, at this time, we have decided to stop contributing to those Members of Congress who contested the certification of certain states in the 2020 election.”
They also made it very clear that their Political Action Committee supports both the Democrats and the Republicans equally. They mentioned that their donations went to both the Democrats and the Republicans who supported the certification. The immense public pressure and criticism made Toyota backtrack its decision.
There certainly were other companies who donated to the same 147 lawmakers in Congress. However, after the horrific riots on the US Capitol on January 6, where Trump supporters rioted to halt the certification process, many companies backtracked their decision. The riots were bloody and caused immense distress among the citizens and the politicians. 5 deaths occurred and around 535 people were arrested in this huge riot.
Big companies, such as Microsoft, Google, and General Electric all suspended their donations until the end of 2022. Corporations such as American Express, BlueCross BlueShield, Amazon, Walmart, Airbnb, AT&T, Comcast, Commerce Bank, Disney, Dow Chemical, MasterCard, Verizon, and Marriott all stopped their donations.
Acts like this are despicable, especially from one of the largest automakers in the world. Many people came forward and asked why it took public backlash for Toyota to stop their donations and why they couldn’t realize it themselves. After trending on Twitter and the Republican PAC video calling them out, it seems like they finally realized it and took the decision. They were late but better late than never.
A CREW spokesperson, the organization that revealed Toyota’s total donation figures to the lawmakers, said “it shouldn’t take a public pressure campaign to get them to do the right thing, but we’re glad it worked.” He’s right. Toyota has since probably realized their mistake and their decision should be respected. However, what actually goes on inside is still a mystery to the common folk.