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Toyota North America, seeking more political clout, forms new PAC

March 11, 2013|By Ronald D. White
  • Toyota's North American subsidiary has formed a new political action committee, according to a recent Federal Election Commission filing.
Toyota's North American subsidiary has formed a new political action… (Kevork Djansezian / Getty…)

Toyota's North American subsidiary has formed a new political action committee, according to a recent Federal Election Commission filing.

The Federal Election Commission "statement of organization" form shows the new PAC listed as "Toyota North America Inc. Political Action Committee (Toyota/Lexus PAC)."

The PAC will be allowed to raise up to $5,000 per year from eligible company employees. Observers said it was the automaker's latest push to extend its influence.

Tracy Doi, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.'s group vice president and chief financial officer, will serve as the PAC's treasurer, according to the federal filings.

A spokesman for Toyota North America, Ed Lewis, said "Toyota is establishing the Toyota-Lexus PAC to allow employees acting together to support candidates who share  the company’s interest, value and goals."

The world's largest automaker already employs a large team of government lobbyists, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

In recent years, it's spent between $3 million and $6 million annually on federally reportable lobbying efforts, including $3.35 million during 2012, the Center for Public Integrity said.

In all, 36 registered federal lobbyists worked on behalf of Toyota last year, most of whom have previously worked for the government in some capacity, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

"Toyota appears to be the first foreign automaker to form a PAC," said Dave Levinthal, senior political reporter for the Center for Public Integrity.

It's not the automaker's first PAC. The Gulf States Toyota PAC has already been operating for a number of years.

The new PAC's formation comes after several other actions involving the company.

In February, Toyota announced that it had reached a $29-million settlement with attorneys general from 29 states and one U.S. territory over sudden acceleration claims.

That followed a record-setting $1.1-billion settlement of hundreds of class-action claims alleging that the automaker's actions involving the acceleration problem had damaged the value of consumers' vehicles.

Previously, it paid about $67 million in fines to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for not recalling vehicles promptly.

In the automotive industry, the National Auto Dealers Assn. is by far the most generous PAC. During the 2012 election cycle, it donated more than $3 million, mostly to Republicans,  according to statistics compiled by opensecrets.org.

Ford Motor Co. was the biggest PAC among automakers, raising nearly $740,000, an amount that was fairly evenly distributed among Republicans and Democrats.

The Gulf States Toyota PAC raised $180,500 during the same cycle, with most of that money going to Republican candidates.

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