Find Out Which Clothing Company Is A Closeted Supporter of Trump! Jun 21, 2017 by Taylor (Day Styles)
Donald Trump has found political support in some unexpected places. While U.S. laws limit the amount of money that a person can give directly to a political campaign, donors can give unlimited amounts to Super PACs. Sometimes this support comes from unexpected places. For example, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Sheldon Adelson, gave more than $10 million dollars to help Trump win the U.S. Presidency.
One of the surprising places that Trump found financial support was from one of L.L. Bean's heirs and co-owners, Linda Bean. Bean paid more than $60,000 to a pro-Trump PAC during Trump's campaign. Bean's grandfather is Leon Leonwood Bean. He founded the company. The younger Bean is one of a number of family owners of the closely-owned business that sells clothing and outdoor supplies.
Linda Bean is one of about fifty company owners, and she's on the company's board of directors. Bean has donated to many political candidates and causes over several years, and she's even tried twice, unsuccessfully, to run for U.S. Congress. Both times she ran as a Republican.
Bean's donation to the Super PAC drew the angst of the Federal Election Commission. They say that the donation exceeds the individual donor limit of $5,000. The donation drew ire from political groups as well. One group, Grab Your Wallet, called for a boycott of the clothing company. The group calling for the boycott is an online group that asks members to boycott companies that show any support for Trump.
Bean disputes having made a $60,000 donation. She says that she donated only $25,000. Even so, $25,000 is still $20,000 over the FEC limit.
The clothing and outdoor company didn't take the criticism lying down. Executive Chairman Shawn Garman shot back that there are more than fifty owners of the family company, each with their own opinions. No one owner speaks for everyone, and no owner speaks on behalf of the company, Garman says. Garman went on to say that the company is non-partisan. The company doesn't support any politician or political causes, he says, and it's unfair to link the company to Trump or call for a boycott. Spokespersons for the company deny that the company has any kind of political agenda.
One person who didn't mind the support was Trump himself. In fact, on January 12, 2017, Trump sent a tweet thanking Linda Bean for her support. Trump called on supporters to buy L.L. Bean products as a show of solidarity with Linda Bean. He said that Bean showed courage for making the donation.
Meanwhile, Bean took to the media to defend her donation. She made an appearance on Fox News. She says that people who want to boycott the company are bullies.
The Maine-based clothing company isn't the only company whose political stance has created a stir. New Balance also took the heat after their executive said that Trump is moving the country in the right direction. Some protesters took to the internet to literally burn New Balance products as a sign of protest. The executive of the fitness apparel company also backed Trump in his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
Other companies went the other way. Starbucks faced a backlash from other political activists when its top brass came out in support of Hillary Clinton. Macy's also faced criticism from Trump supporters after they stopped selling Trump's clothing line. Macy's executive chairman Terry Lundgren tried to distance the decision from partisan politics, saying that the company has decided not to sell the products of any political candidate, ever.
L.L. Bean has its company home in Freeport, Maine. The company started in 1912. It's annual sales top $1 billion.
Despite the controversy, the company's sales have remained steady. They've been on a five-year streak of increasing sales, and sales have continued to climb at a steady pace. Because of robust sales, owners approved a three-percent bonus for approximately 6,000 employees. Even so, the company has plans to freeze pensions and offer workers voluntary early retirement. They hope to slash their workforce by as many as 500 workers. Although the company says sales have remained strong, the company boasted faster growth in the 1980's and the 1990's than in recent years.
Maine, L.L. Bean's home state, voted for Barack Obama twice. In 2016, the state split its electoral votes between Clinton and Trump. Maine is one of the few states that assigns its electoral college votes based on a Congressional district rather than based on a winner-take-all model. In both 2008 and 2012, all four of Maine's electoral college votes went to Obama.