GM criticized for restarting donations to election certification opponents


Progressive pressure group has released a digital ad slamming General Motors for making donations to Republican members of Congress who voted against certifying President Joe Biden’s election in January months after it had paused contributions.

The online video, which plays on traditional car commercials by presenting GM’s political donations in the form of specs for a new vehicle, claims the Detroit automaker reneged on a promise to halt donations to the members of Congress who voted to overturn the election results.

In January, dozens of U.S. corporations, including GM, halted or paused donations after a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Some companies singled out lawmakers who voted to overturn the election results, while others suspended political contributions altogether. General Motors said at the time it had “paused new contributions” and would evaluate its 2021 giving to political action committees, or PACs. It resumed giving in May, according to Jeannine Ginivan, a spokeswoman for the automaker.

“The General Motors employee-funded PAC supports the election of U.S. federal and state candidates from both sides of the aisle who foster sound business policies, support American workers and understand the importance of a robust domestic auto industry as we pursue an all-electric vehicle future,” GM said in an emailed statement.

GM gave $47,000 to Republican members of Congress and their leadership PACs through the end of June, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, according to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW. Both were among those who voted to object against Biden’s certification. The ad cited data from CREW.

MoveOn has spent between $200 and $2,000 to run the ad on YouTube in Detroit and Washington, D.C., according to Google’s ad archive. It reached between 10,000 and 100,000 viewers in each market. Google reports ad spends and audience reach in broad ranges.

Consumer-facing companies have to weigh potential public reaction with their political interests when making donations. 

Toyota Motor Corp. backtracked on its political giving policies in July when its resumption of contributions sparked a social media backlash. The Japanese carmaker reinstated its ban on donations to the 147 congressional Republicans who voted against certifying Electoral College votes for Biden on Jan. 6.

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