Mitch McConnell backs corporate criticism, accuses Democrats of distorting restrictive voting laws

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McConnell also defended the changes made to the voting laws by several states and insisted that “there is nothing far involved in the suppression of the vote by the adjustments made by the law of Georgia.”

His remarks came the day after he said the companies were “stupid” for getting involved in the issue.

“Republicans buy stocks, fly on planes and also drink Coca-Cola. So what I’m saying here is it’s pretty dumb, to jump in the middle of a very controversial question, especially when they got their facts wrong, ”the Kentucky Republican said Tuesday in response to an interview. question at a press conference in Louisville.

“I didn’t say that very cleverly yesterday. They certainly have a right to be involved in politics, ”McConnell told reporters Wednesday in his hometown of Kentucky of companies like Delta Airlines, Coca Cola and Major League Baseball. “My main complaint is that they haven’t read the damn bill. “

On Wednesday, McConnell highlighted remarks by President Joe Biden that Georgia’s law was designed to suppress minority voters and McConnell suggested that the companies had not done their own assessments before criticizing the law.

“The President of the United States has called Jim Crow’s exercise bill to suppress voter turnout, presumably based on race, because that is what Jim Crow claims. This bastion of conservatism, The Washington Post, gave the president four Pinocchios for lying about it. McConnell said.

McConnell’s comments on Biden are an apparent reference to statements Biden made recently in which he suggested Georgia’s new election law would cut voting hours. The law does not shorten the hours on Election Day in Georgia, and counties can choose to extend early voting to 7 a.m. ET and 7 p.m. The Washington Post gave Biden “Four Pinocchi” for comment and CNN described Biden’s remarks as “misleading. Yet the new law imposes new voter identification requirements for postal ballots, empowers state officials to take charge of local election commissions, restricts the use of ballot boxes and makes it a crime to ” approach voters online to give them food and water.

McConnell suggested that companies were afraid to respond to Democratic criticisms of the legislation.

“They were intimidated into adopting an interpretation of this by the Democrats in Georgia in order to be successful. And what did it cost them? It cost them an all-star game. “

McConnell said there was no problem in the United States getting people to the polls, citing the high turnout in the November election as proof.

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“We don’t have a participation problem in this country,” he said. “The turnout in 2020 was higher than any presidential race since 1900 – 120 years. People’s votes are not suppressed. Voting is becoming more and more convenient all over America. Different states do it differently. “

McConnell has repeatedly championed state efforts to tighten voting rules. On Monday, he warned big companies that they would suffer “serious consequences” after accusing them of using “economic blackmail” in an attempt to influence election laws.

“From election law to environmentalism to sweeping social programs to the Second Amendment, parts of the private sector continue to behave like a woken parallel government,” the Kentucky Republican said in a statement Monday. “Businesses will have grave consequences if they become a means for far-left crowds to divert our country from outside the constitutional order. “

Lawmakers in all but three of the states have introduced bills to restrict access to the ballot box, according to a new tally from New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. Its latest report reveals that 361 bills restricting voting had been introduced in 47 states as of March 24. The total, released Thursday morning, marks a 43% increase in the number of bills introduced since Brennan last posted a tally just over a month ago.

Florida, Arizona and Georgia were all battleground states in 2020 and will host races for the US Senate in 2022. Republican legislative majorities and GOP governors are working to make voting more difficult in those states , with Georgia becoming the first to adopt new restrictions this year.

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McConnell’s statements earlier this week are particularly noteworthy not only because he has long championed the involvement of corporate money in politics – a past position he tried to reconcile with new remarks on Tuesday – but because the Republican Party has traditionally been more sympathetic. to large companies.

McConnell has previously supported corporate involvement in politics, including supporting the 2010 United States Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case, which allowed large corporations to have more power to spend freely on individuals. federal elections. In 2014, he spoke out against Democrats’ attempts to allow Congress to set limits on corporate campaign spending in federal elections, calling it a threat to basic speech rights.

Asked how he balances his support for Citizens United with his call for corporations to stay out of politics in the debate on election laws, McConnell said, “They have the right to participate in the political process. They’re doing it “.

“But choosing how you do that in a way that doesn’t completely alienate a very large number of people who depend on your products doesn’t seem very smart to me,” he said.

Kelly Mena, Veronica Stracqualursi, Zachary B. Wolf, Janie Boschma, Fredreka Schouten, Priya Krishnakumar and Daniel Dale of CNN contributed to this report.

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