WASHINGTON—Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday backed off his warning that businesses should stay away from politics but reiterated his frustration with some prominent companies’ criticism of Republican-led efforts to pass new election laws.
Mr. McConnell had issued a statement on Monday threatening “serious consequences” for corporations that retaliate against GOP bills in Georgia and elsewhere, saying companies were capitulating to pressure from Democratic activists. The Kentucky Republican didn’t name any companies, or specify what consequences they might face.
The next day, at a press conference in his home state, he added: “My warning if you will, to corporate America is to stay out of politics. It’s not what you’re designed for.” He said he wasn’t referring to political contributions, which he called appropriate. “I am talking about taking a position on a highly incendiary issue like this.”
On Wednesday, at another public appearance in Kentucky, Mr. McConnell acknowledged: “I didn’t say that very artfully yesterday.” Companies are entitled to be involved in politics, he said. “My principle complaint is, they didn’t read the darn bill. … There are many states right now after the new Georgia law, that are much more restrictive than the new Georgia law.”
The controversial Georgia bill passed by the GOP-controlled legislature last month drew criticism from civil-rights advocates who said the new rules would make it harder for Georgians—especially minority voters—to cast ballots.
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