Toyota moves fast. Not the cars, mind you (although, they do too) but the actual company, which took less than two weeks to realize that, hey, maybe getting busted for donating a ton of money to lawmakers who helped fuel the Jan. 6 insurrection is not the best look for a massive corporation. Go figure!
Just days after the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington watchdog group pointed out that the Japanese automaker was far and away the biggest corporate donor to members of the so-called "sedition caucus" — Republican lawmakers who voted against certifying Joe Biden's victory — Toyota has conspicuously reversed course, announcing the decision in a brief press release late Thursday afternoon:
Toyota is committed to supporting and promoting actions that further our democracy. Our company has long-standing relationships with members of Congress across the political spectrum, especially those representing our U.S. operations. Our bipartisan PAC equally supports Democrats and Republicans running for Congress. In fact, in 2021, the vast majority of the contributions went to Democrats and Republicans who supported the certification of the 2020 election. We understand that the PAC decision to support select members of Congress who contested the results troubled some stakeholders. 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.
That's nice and all, but compare it to the statement a Toyota spokesperson gave just days ago when the company was first outed for donating to the seditionists in the first place:
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.
The irony here is that of these two statements, the company's initial excuse that they try not to "judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification" is probably the more cravenly honest of the pair. "Hey, we're a car company, and we're gonna give to anyone who's in a position to let us make more money by selling cars" is a pretty unremarkable — if somewhat uncouth to say aloud — sentiment. On the other hand, citing "troubled" stakeholders seems like a cop out for saying the obvious: The company was simply embarrassed to be caught giving money to lawmakers who have demonstrated through their actions that they do not actually believe in laws.
Whether Toyota's hasty about-face will actually make a difference — or even last beyond the current news cycle — remains to be seen. And if it doesn't, frankly, it might not matter anyway: The Trumpian wing of the GOP has fully embraced the former president's unhinged conspiracy-mongering, regardless of corporate donations or the lack thereof. It's a chilling truth to consider, but it's entirely possible that in this instance, money just might not be enough anymore.