Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Starbucks Claims Widespread Support for CEO's Call to Boycott Campaign Donations

Starbucks claimed Wednesday that it has rallied “hundreds” of people in support of a call by CEO Howard Schultz to suspend campaign contributions to Congress and the president until Washington produces a long-term deficit reduction plan.

Schultz has been pushing the idea over the past several days, appealing to business leaders and other Americans to send a message to Washington by cutting off the fundraising spigot.

“This effort is not concerned with helping or hurting one party or another – it’s about applying pressure on all those now in office to compromise for the good of the country,” he wrote in a memo Monday.

Aside from the contribution cut-off, Schultz is also calling on businesses to inspire “confidence” in the economy by hiring more people “now” – as opposed to waiting for another government stimulus program.

The call to boycott campaign donations is risky business. While the pipeline of cash from businesses, unions and other interest groups to D.C. is often derided as a corrupting influence, the pocket-lining nevertheless helps donors stay in the good graces of key lawmakers. If Starbucks launches a strike all by its lonesome – while every other business breaks the picket line – Schultz is unlikely to make his point.

But a Starbucks representative said Wednesday that the company is “encouraged by the energy we’re seeing” from Schultz’s appeal and working on a way to roll out that support in the coming days.

"We've received hundreds of emails of support from CEOs, business leaders and citizens,” the representative said in an email to

Not many have gone on record in support of the call yet. NASDAQ CEO Bob Greifeld backed up Starbucks on Monday, writing in a note that Schultz “can count on me.”

“Until our elected officials show the leadership that all of us not only expect but deserve, it is time for us to stand firm and demand more from them,” he wrote in a letter to member companies.

Duncan Niederauer, head of the New York Stock Exchange, also forwarded Schultz’ appeal to thousands of CEOs on Monday.

If Schultz’s appeal strikes a chord with enough business leaders, he could be messing with some serious money.

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