McConnell says the quiet part out loud, tells corporate America to 'stay out of politics,' but clarifies he's 'not talking about political contributions'

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Erin Snodgrass
·3 min read
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GettyImages mitch mcconnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. KEVIN DIETSCH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
  • Mitch McConnell warned corporations to "stay out of politics" at a Monday news conference.

  • His comments came after a slew of corporations spoke out against Georgia's restrictive voting law.

  • But Tuesday, McConnell clarified that he wasn't "talking about political contributions. "

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear he wants corporate CEOs to stay out of politics. Unless, that is, they're putting money in politicians' campaigns.

The senator from Kentucky chastised American corporations Monday, suggesting the companies' leaders need to stop speaking out about Georgia's restrictive new voting law, warning there could be consequences for those that continue to do so.

"My advice to the corporate CEOs of America is to stay out of politics. Don't pick sides in these big fights," McConnell said at a news conference Monday.

Twitter users and journalists were quick to point out McConnell's status as a longtime recipient of corporate donations, outstripping most other members of Congress by some measures when it came to political donations.

But McConnell rebuked any suggestions of hypocrisy Tuesday, clarifying his original statements and carving out an exception for political contributions.

"I'm not talking about political contributions," McConnell said during a stop at a Kentucky health clinic 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."

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Major League Baseball announced last week that it would no longer host its 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta in the wake of Georgia's new voting law, which civil rights activists have criticized as suppressing voters, in particular Black voters.

Many corporations followed suit, including major Georgia-based companies like Coca-Cola, Delta, and Home Depot.

Republicans have slammed MLB's decision and the wave of corporate responses, calling for boycotts and threatening tax hikes to punish companies that have spoken out.

On Monday, McConnell accused corporations that oppose the law of acting like a "woke alternative government," saying it would "invite serious consequences if they became a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order."

But the minority leader, who received more than $3 million in corporate PAC donations during the 2020 election cycle, according to OpenSecrets, was careful in his language Tuesday, saying businesses have a "right to participate in the political process."

"Most of them contribute to both sides. They have political action committees - that's fine, it's legal, I support that," he said.

The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling from 2010 said that "independent political spending" was protected under the First Amendment.

According to MarketWatch, McConnell received $258,880 from CEOs and S&P 500 companies during the 2020 cycle - more than any other candidate in a competitive Senate race that year.

But when it comes to the First Amendment right to free speech that is not to be curtailed by Congress, McConnell did issue a warning: "If I were running a major corporation, I would stay out of politics," adding that the corporations are "irritating a hell of a lot of Republican fans."

Read the original article on Business Insider