Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has long argued that corporate campaign donations are a protected, almost sacred, form of political communication. On Tuesday he made the case that business executives might be better off limiting their free speech to write checks.
In recent times, Mr. McConnell, the minority leader, has juggled with officials of Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta and other corporations in Republican-led efforts to ban the use of voting in Georgia and other states Are critical of. “Bullying” leaders.
Mr. McConnell went even further, speaking in his home state during an extended back-end with reporters on Tuesday.
After his presence promoting vaccine distribution in Louisville, Mr. McConnell said, “My warning, if you want to stay out of politics in corporate America,”. “This is not what you are designed for. And in the midst of America’s biggest political debate, don’t be intimidated to give you the right reasons.”
When officials were asked to define the activities they should avoid, they responded, “I am not talking about political contributions.”
Brian Fallon, former head of Democratic Majority Leader, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, said Mr. McConnell’s comments reflect the struggle of a once-powerful leader who is trying to find his way after his loss of Senate majority and A break with former President Donald J. Trump rioted on 6 January.
“The Earth is passing under its feet,” said Mr. Falon, who now runs a group opposed to Mr. McConnell’s judicial nomination. “He is criticizing corporations for going into political debate after years of defending their right to spend unlimited sums of money on political campaigns. This is a man used to calling shots, but he is suddenly powerless and drifting. “
People close to Mr. McConnell say he is alluding to the political woes of business leaders, even though he has often been supportive of corporate leaders’ support for efforts to cut taxes and regulation.
Mr. McConnell told reporters that he was not implying that business leaders did not have the right to express themselves, but suggested that the best way to communicate was the contribution of money to campaigns.
“Republicans,” he said, “also drink Coca-Cola, and we fly.”
He said companies and sports leagues were “not very smart” for weighing in voting bills.
And MLB’s decision to pull the All-Star Game from Atlanta in protest of Georgia’s law, he said, “was upsetting a whole hell of a lot of Republican fans.”
Mr. McConnell was one of McCain-Fingold’s leading opponents of campaign finance law, which banned spending by corporations and unions, challenging it in court nearly two decades ago.
And he celebrated the Landmark Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, which turned it down in 2010, a decision in which corporations had the same free speech rights as people.
“For a long time, some people in this country have been denied full participation in the political process. With today’s monumental decision, the Supreme Court took an important step towards restoring the First Amendment rights of these groups, ”he said in a statement at the time.