Business Leaders Respond to Starbucks CEO's Pledge to Boycott Campaign Contributions


David Sutton, a spokesman for the tobacco corporation Altria, told ABC News in a statement that its approach to political involvement is centered on engagement of its companies at the federal, state and local levels "to educate stakeholders, including elected officials, about our positions on legislative and regulatory proposals" where permitted by law and company policy.

"In addition, since 1978 our companies' political action committees (PACs), which include Altriapac, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates PAC, and USTEAM PAC, have enabled employees and shareholders to pool their political contributions to support candidates who understand the legislative and regulatory issues that are important to our companies," Sutton said.

A spokeswoman for Citigroup, also provided a statement to ABC News.

"As stated in our Political Contributions and Lobbying Statement, Citigroup does not use corporate funds for independent expenditures nor for federal candidates. Citi's political action committee, which is funded by voluntary employee contributions, makes contributions as permitted under federal, state and local laws to elect candidates whose views we support," the Citigroup spokeswoman said.

Robert Reich, former Labor Department secretary under Bill Clinton and professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, said Schultz's pledge may not be enough to be politically influential.

"He should have gone further and asked all other CEOs to end all campaign contributions, period," Robert Reich, former Labor Department secretary, told ABC News. "They're corrupting our politics and are not even in the interest of shareholders."

Michael Beckel, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, told ABC News that it may be too early to tell whether Schultz's pledge may change behavior in Washington. The majority of large campaign contributors between 1989 and 2010 were in fact associations and unions, according to

But Beckel said a similar campaign by the gay rights community called Don't Ask, Don't Give, launched in 2009, successfully influenced the demise of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and the 2010 election cycle.

"It seems like it was a message that got across," Beckel said. "That money that had been flowing to certain politicians was no longer there. The Obama administration has been doing more to reach out to supporters of gay rights."

Gay rights groups attacked the donation of the chairman of New Balance to a political action committee supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, as reported by the Washington Post last week.

The chairman of Massachusetts shoe manufacturer New Balance, Jim Davis, made a personal donation of $500,000 to the group, Restore Our Future, on June 15. Gay rights groups criticized the donation in light of Romney signing a pledge earlier this month supporting a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriages.

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