Toyota to Stop Donating to Republicans Who Contested 2020 Results

An anti-Trump group had criticized the automaker for giving to politicians who resisted the certification of the results or trivialized the Capitol attack.


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Toyota says it will stop donating to Republicans who contested the election results.

Broken glass on doors leading to the Capitol Rotunda after the Jan. 6 attack. The Lincoln Project’s new campaign could offer the group a way to rebrand itself after internal disputes.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

July 8, 2021, 11:36 a.m. ET

Toyota said on Thursday that it would stop donating to Republicans who disputed the 2020 presidential vote after being the focus of an ad campaign by the Lincoln Project, a group that was founded to antagonize President Donald J. Trump with viral video criticisms.

The automaker said in a statement that its support of the politicians had “troubled some stakeholders.”

“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,” the company said. It added that it was “committed to supporting and promoting actions that further our democracy” through its PAC and “has longstanding relationships with members of Congress across the political spectrum.”

The Lincoln Project had released an ad directed at Toyota, which it accused of donating $55,000 to 37 Republicans in Congress who pushed back against President Biden’s victory.

The Lincoln Project, known for its scathing anti-Trump videos and memes during the 2020 campaign, said the ad was part of a broader project aimed at decreasing funding for Republicans who resisted the results of the vote and played down the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The group said it planned to release more ads in the following weeks naming companies that “have broken their pledges to withhold campaign funds to members of Congress who enabled, empowered and emboldened former President Trump and the insurrectionists.”

The group’s spot about Toyota includes footage of a vehicle crash test interspersed with images of the Jan. 6 riot. A narrator warns Toyota executives that “if they don’t reconsider where they send their money, Americans will reconsider where we send ours.”

The Lincoln Project said the ad would no longer run after Thursday. It was set to appear online in the same markets as Toyota’s top 20 dealerships and locally on Fox Business and CNBC in New York and in Plano, Texas, where Toyota’s American operations are based. The Lincoln Project said Comcast had refused to air the commercial in Washington; Comcast did not immediately provide a comment.

“Toyota made the right choice today,” the Lincoln Project said in a statement. “They put democracy ahead of transactional politics. We hope that the rest of corporate America will follow their lead — we’ll be there to make sure of it.”

Founded by Republican consultants opposed to Mr. Trump, the group started as a super PAC in 2019. Later, the founders sought to parlay the Lincoln Project’s popularity into a broader media enterprise, setting off internal disputes as it experimented with a new tone for the Biden administration.

The campaign targeting Toyota and other companies could offer the group a way to rebrand itself. Earlier this year, the Lincoln Project grappled with allegations that John Weaver, a co-founder, had harassed young men with sexually provocative messages for years. In June, the Lincoln Project said an independent investigation had found that its leadership was unaware of the accusations against Mr. Weaver until they were made public.

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