tags: Press Releases

Accountability Focus Shifts to Corporate Donors for Republicans Who Mainstream White Nationalism

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Washington, DC – Commentators continue to highlight the role and complicity of Republicans and right wing media in advancing white nationalist conspiracies and mainstreaming the same “replacement” and “invasion” rhetoric cited by the Buffalo shooter. 

Yet, as it becomes clear that Republicans responsible for mainstreaming white nationalism refuse to be chastened and the rest of the GOP refuses to hold their colleagues accountable, new calls to action for accountability are coalescing around corporations who donate to those who spew white nationalism.

Arizona Republic columnist EJ Montini writes, “Buffalo shooting suspect duped by ‘replacement theory’ that’s now part of the GOP playbook,” noting: 

“… ‘replacement theory’ isn’t only being spewed by the lunatic fringe. It is being spewed by the lunatic mainstream. It is being spewed, for example, by Fox television host Tucker Carlson. And it is being spewed by Republican candidates for public office all over the country. Including Arizona.

…In Arizona we’ve heard several variations of it, often talking about an ‘invasion’ of immigrants, from Republican Senate candidates Mark Brnovich, Jim Lamon and Blake Masters. And from GOP candidate for Arizona governor Kari Lake. And from others.

…It’s sick. And it’s getting people killed. The deeply disturbed, radicalized individuals who carried out these crimes – as well as the foolish, impressionable potential killers who may be in that murderous pipeline – no longer need to get their racist, xenophobic rhetoric from the lunatic fringe. They can get it from the lunatic mainstream. It’s a killer campaign strategy. Literally. And the people spewing it need to own that.”

Montini is unquestionably right. Yet, as we highlighted last week, the Republican Party and right wing media are far from chastened. Instead, right wing media like Tucker Carlson, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and 30 House Republicans who signed a border “invasion” letter all chose to instead unapologetically double or triple down. Meanwhile, the silence from Republican leadership has been deafening, encapsulated by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, who at a press conference last week “repeatedly avoided denouncing” the white nationalist conspiracies or his GOP colleagues defending them. 

Yet the failure of Republicans to excommunicate or hold accountable their colleagues and right wing media allies should not ratchet down the importance of attempts to do so. And if Republicans themselves are beyond reach, perhaps their corporate donors are not.

As Greg Sargent reports for the Washington Post:

“A new campaign launched by the Lincoln Project seeks to test this proposition. The group is set to air a harsh ad in Stefanik’s district hammering her for ‘promoting the racist white replacement theory’ and ‘selling racial hatred,’ adding that ‘Buffalo paid in blood.’

But the group’s campaign will test another unknown: Whether numerous Republicans’ flirtation with great replacement theory — which alleges an elite plot to replace native-born Whites in western countries with imported non-White immigrants — is so disqualifying that corporate donors cut off the money flow to them. The ad singles out three major companies — PricewaterhouseCoopers, Home Depot and the Altria Group — and rips them for donating to Stefanik. Watch it here.”

A separate Post analysis, based on donations before the Buffalo attack, notes that “Stefanik echoed ‘great replacement’ theory. But firms kept donating.” The story highlights that 22 companies who had made racial justice pledges following George Floyd’s killing nonetheless donated to Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) even after she deployed “white replacement” ads last Fall:

“The 22 corporations that made racial justice statements have given a total of more than $148,000 to Stefanik’s three campaign funds in the period between Sept. 22 — a week after her controversial ad last fall — and the latest reporting period that ended March 31, according to a Post tally. That accounted for more than a quarter of Stefanik’s corporate PAC donations and about 6 percent of the $2.4 million she and her PACs have raised since the ad controversy.”

The following is a statement from Vanessa Cárdenas, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:

“In a normal, functional democracy, the association of a political party’s ideology with mass murder – multiple mass murders – would lead to some soul-searching and accountability. But not for today’s Republican Party.

The GOP is refusing to condemn or excommunicate those responsible for spreading the white nationalist conspiracies and lies, choosing to double down on the vile language or choosing complicity and silence.

In response, Americans across the political spectrum cannot throw up their hands in frustration. Instead, we need to find new ways to hold accountable those who mainstream hate – at the ballot box and through corporate accountability efforts. The poison of white supremacy will not dissipate on its own, it must be expelled.”