Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said on Tuesday it was “stupid” for companies to take a stand on divisive political issues, but noted his criticisms were not about their donations policies.
“So my warning, if you will, to American business is to stay out of politics,” McConnell told reporters at a press conference in Louisville. “It’s not what you were designed to do. And don’t be intimidated by the left into taking up causes that put you right in the middle of one of America’s biggest political debates.”
McConnell’s comments mark the third time he has addressed corporate reaction to Georgia’s recently passed voting law, which came in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s campaign of lies about the Georgia election last fall.
Late last week, the CEOs of Delta and Coca-Cola – who are based in Atlanta – both condemned the new measure. And on Friday, Major League Baseball pulled this year’s All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest the same law. This game will instead be played in Colorado.
The baseball decision sparked the most outrage from Republicans, as Trump called for a boycott of baseball and several other companies that spoke out against Georgian law.
“You know, Republicans also drink Coca-Cola,” McConnell said Tuesday. “And we fly. And we love baseball. It’s a pretty competitive political environment in America, as I just reported on a 50-50 Senate. If I was running a big company, I would stay out of it. Politics.”
He added that the latest moves “irritated a hell of a lot of Republican fans.”
The Georgia episode was just the last dust between American business and the Republican Party. Earlier this year, a number of large companies announced that they would no longer make political donations to anyone who voted against the Electoral College’s vote count claim last fall following the deadly riot. January 6 at the Capitol.
The wider divide is a product of the GOP being increasingly driven by ‘culture war’ issues as companies come under increased pressure from employees, consumers and voting rights advocates, LGBTQ rights and anti-racism efforts.
McConnell, long a big money champion in politics, said business “has the right to participate in a political process” but should do so without alienating “a very large number of people.”
“I’m not talking about political contributions,” he said of his criticism of business leaders speaking out against 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 this. I’m talking about taking a stand on a highly questionable issue. incendiary like this and punishing a community or a state, because you don’t like a particular law that’s passed, I just think that’s stupid. “