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Risky business: Corporate political giving targeted

Faced with a barrage of online criticism, the dairy-products cooperative and the pet food giant abruptly withdrew their support for…

Faced with a barrage of online criticism, the dairy-products cooperative and the pet food giant abruptly withdrew their support for the eight-term Republican congressman on Tuesday – just a week before the election. King’s controversial comments about race, ethnicity and immigrant status have drawn fresh scrutiny in recent days, following the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead.

But the companies are just the latest to find themselves in the crosshairs of the public and activists by their political contributions or views.

Earlier this year, supermarket chain Publix suspended its political contributions after it faced criticism for giving to Adam Putnam, a candidate then seeking the Republican nomination for the Florida governor, for his ties to the National Rifle Association. The grocery chain’s move came as the survivors of a February shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, staged “in-in” protests at several of its stores in Florida.

L.L.. Bean, the Maine outdoor company famous for its flannel shirts and canvass tote bags, faced a backlash from some customers after a member of the Bean family, Linda Bean, emerged as a financial backer of President Donald Trump. On Twitter, Trump himself encouraged his supporters to “Buy L.L. Bean.”

An effort by a former marketing consultant in San Francisco, dubbed #GrabYourWallet, has called for boycots of Trump-owned businesses or those run by people who back him. Earlier this year, three companies ̵

1; CVS Health, Dow Chemical and Southern Company – said they would not donate to a pro-Trump nonprofit, America’s First Policies, after CNN and other news organizations reported racist comments made by the organization’s staffers.

 Country O & # 39; Lakes, Purina drop financial support for Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King

And more recently, some Nike customers burned their shoes and cut Nike’s famous “swoosh” off their clothes in response to an ad campaign featuring unsigned NFL player Colin Kaepernick. He enraged Trump and the President’s conservative supporters by kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality.

“The environment today is hyperpolarized and really very toxic,” said Bruce Freed, who runs the Center for Political Accountability, a nonprofit that promotes greater political transparency at publicly traded companies.

“Consumers and employees are much more sensitive to what they see the company associated with through their political spending,” he said. “They will move jobs or move dollar-wise in terms of their own spending” if they disagree with a company’s politics.

Land O’Lakes and Purina officials did not respond to CNN interview requests Wednesday but issued statements this week, saying King’s comments conflict with their corporate values.

King – who faces a better-financed rival, Democrat J.D., who announced that he would not be able to support King. Scholten on Election Day – also drew a rebuke this week from Rep. Steve Stivers, who heads the House campaign arm.

For his part, King has blamed “dishonest fake news” for the criticism and said it was orchestrated to help flip the House to Democrats and Engineer Trump’s Impeachment.

Business as usual

Politieke actie committees geassocieerd met corporaties hebben lang geleden aan koning, ondanks de immigratie hardliner’s lange geschiedenis van racially and ethnically insensitive comments. (He once declared that Mexicans have “calves the size of cantaloupes” from carrying drugs across the US-Mexico border.)

King, who sat on the House Agriculture Committee, received more than a quarter of his contributions in this election cycle from PACs, including those associated with agribusiness, figures compiled by the Nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics Show.

It’s not surprising a major dairy interest such as Land O’Lakes would donate to King and other members of a committee that helps set the nation’s farm policy. In all, the Minnesota-based company has contributed $ 12,000 to King since Jan. 1, 2008, including $ 2,500 this year, according to the Center’s data.

“It makes sense for a company to give to those who have jurisdiction over their issues – unless and until it becomes a liability,” said Sheila Krumholz, who runs the center.

 House GOP campaign chief blasts Iowa Rep. Steve King's white supremacy and hate & # 39;

King sparked a greater backlash with his recent decision to endorse Toronto mayoral candidate Faith Goldy, who has espoused white nationalist views.

Judd Legum, who writes the political newsletter Popular Information, said that endorsement sparked him to lead a social media campaign, urging companies to abandon King.

“Corporations have just gotten used to the idea that they would not be accountable for any of this,” Legum said. “These companies sell products in King’s district, but they also sell products around the country and the world. “

” A lot of people feel powerless in this political environment, “added Legum.

Know your customer

Richard Levick, the CEO of LEVICK, a Washington-based public relations firm, said companies are learning how to successfully navigate a new era of politics, where a small kick on social media can quickly set off a firestorm.

He praised LL Bean for working to stay above the fray when controversy erupted over Linda Bean’s political activity.

In a statement at the time, company executives noted that “like most large families, the more than 50 family members and embrace causes across the political spectrum. “

But the company itself, the statement said, is “apolitical.”

“They handled that very well,” Levick said. “They knew half their customers were buying guns and hunting and that half their customers were buying Birkenstocks and going camping. “

As for Nike, the ad campaign demonstrates it knows its audience, despite the conservative backlash, Levick said.

Online sales surged after the debut of the Kaepernick ad.

Nike is selling to millennials “who expect their companies to be socially involved,” he said, not to “60-year-old guys like me who do not need to buy multiple pairs of shoes.”

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