Mitch McConnell retracts his demand that corporations 'stay out of politics' amid outrage over Georgia's voting law

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Mitch McConnell
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday walked back his demand that corporations "stay out of politics."

  • McConnell and other Republicans are condemning major companies for speaking out against Georgia's restrictive voting law.

  • The Kentucky Republican revised his criticism and said companies are "certainly entitled to be involved in politics."

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday retracted his demand that corporations "stay out of politics," with the exception of political donations, as major companies protest Georgia's recently-passed voting rights restrictions.

"I didn't say that very artfully yesterday," the Kentucky Republican told reporters of his comments earlier this week. "They're certainly entitled to be involved in politics."

"My complaint about the CEOs is they ought to read the damn bill," he added.

Major League Baseball announced last Friday that it would pull its All-Star game from Atlanta in response to the Georgia law, which civil rights activists have broadly condemned as a racist voter suppression effort. Georgia-based companies, including Coca-Cola, Delta, and Home Depot, followed, arguing that the voting law was based on the GOP's lies about voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

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On Monday, McConnell lashed out at corporations that are speaking out against the law. Prominent Republicans have called for boycotts and tax hikes on the companies that speak out, labeling the corporations "hypocrites" for continuing to operate in authoritarian countries.

"My advice to the corporate CEOs of America is to stay out of politics. Don't pick sides in these big fights," McConnell said during a Monday news conference. He went on to accuse companies of behaving like a "woke alternative government," warning they could become "a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order."

But after critics pointed out that McConnell is simultaneously staunchly supportive of corporate political speech in the form of donations to politicians, the lawmaker clarified that there were exceptions to his new mandate.

"I'm not talking about political contributions," he told reporters on Tuesday. "I'm talking about taking a position on a highly incendiary issue like this and punishing a community or a state because you don't like a particular law they passed. I just think it's stupid."

McConnell, a top beneficiary of corporate donations, is one of the GOP's most outspoken opponents of campaign finance reform. He has long argued that corporations have First Amendment rights and that corporate donations are protected political speech.

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