Partisan Brands: Starbucks, Celtics Pick Sides in Presidential Race

PHOTO: Which brands disproportionately donate to one party?

From NFL teams to grocery stores, the 2012 election is woven into the fabric of American business, with companies picking sides in the partisan fight.

Whether it's a mega donation from the company's executive or a partisan leaning of the company's employees, many of America's largest brands have disproportionately put their money on one side of the political aisle.

Here's a look at which party employees, executives and political action committees tied to some of the country's biggest brands are supporting.

Leans Democratic

Starbucks

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz endorsed President Obama for a second term less than a week before the election.

Speaking on CNBC Thursday, Schultz said in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, "We saw the very best of President Obama, not only leading, but leading with a deep sense of humility. ... And as a lifelong Democrat, it wouldn't surprise anyone I'm supporting and voting for the president."

In August 2011, Schultz led business leaders in a boycott of political donations.

"We can't wait for Washington," Schultz told "Nightline's" Terry Moran in September. "Business leaders are going to have to galvanize their own constituencies and do everything they can to demonstrate confidence in the economy, and I think that can be contagious."

Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of Starbucks job initiative aimed at hiring more workers.

"To be honest, I don't think the government on both sides has done enough to stimulate the economy and really create jobs in America," Schultz said on CNBC. "I'm glad to see the [unemployment rate] number go down, but let's face it, we still have 14 million people unemployed. Certainly, so many people are being left behind, and we need to do more."

According to Forbes, a little over half of Schultz's political donations go to Democrats, and the rest goes to independents.

Leans Democratic

Costco

Jim Sinegal, the founder of the second-largest retailer in America, threw his support behind Obama >July 23.

Sinegal's support for the Democratic incumbent mirrors his employees' left-leaning support. Of the $102,600 that people affiliated with Costco have given to federal candidates, only about 5 percent went to Republican candidates, according to disclosure data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Costco co-founder Jeffrey Brotman is also a big Democratic donor. He has given the legal maximum donation to the Democratic National Committee as well as President Obama's campaign.

Sinegal is set to host a high-dollar fundraiser with Obama at his home in Hunts Point, Wash.

Leans Republican

UPS

Taken together, the employees and political action committees affiliated with the United Parcel Service, or UPS, have doled out at least $1.5 million in the 2012 election, about 66 percent of which went to Republicans or conservative groups, according to disclosure data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The vast majority of those donations came from UPS's political action committee, which gave $1.3 million to federal candidates, according to the most recent disclosure data. More than two-thirds of those PAC donations went to Republicans.

The company's employees, on the other hand, have more often supported Democrats, giving more than $14,000 to President Obama and $10,000 to Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., the center's data shows.

Leans Democratic

Google

Internet giant Google has, as a whole, comes down on the side of Democrats, with 74 percent of the $1.5 million the company has spent on this election cycle going to Democratic candidates or liberal groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But Google's political action committee's spending is split relatively evenly between Democrats and Republicans in Congress. As of disclosure data released on July 24, the Google Inc PAC has spent $234,500 on Democrats and $210,000 on Republicans.

Google's employees and PACs are one of the largest donors to the Democratic National Committee this election cycle. Together they have donated more than $387,000 to the DNC. Only Time Warner, Blackstone Group and Microsoft Corp. have given more to the DNC, according to the center's data.

Leans Republican

Marriott International

Marriott International is a big Romney backer and, it seems, the support is mutual. The hotel chain's chairman J.W. Marriott Jr. is one of Romney's bundlers and has donated the legal limit to the GOP candidate's campaign. Marriott and his brother Richard Marriott have also shelled out $1 million each to the pro-Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future.

Romney has returned the favor, often staying at a Marriott hotel while out on the campaign trail. Through the beginning of June, Romney reported spending nearly half a million dollars at Marriott hotels on his campaign disclosure forms analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The Marriott PAC also slightly favors Republicans, spending about $110,000 on federal GOP candidates this cycle compared with $64,000 for Democrats.

Democratic

DreamWorks Animation

Nearly every dime of the $2.5 million that Dreamworks employees have donated to federal candidates this election cycle has gone to Democrats. That is due in large part to the $2 million check that Dreamworks CEO Jeffery Katzenberg wrote to the pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA.

Of the $338,000 that Dreamworks employees have given to federal candidates and parties, just 1 percent went to Republicans.

Leans Republican

Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs is not only a giant in the banking community, but is also a big player in political donations. Only five companies have given more to federal candidates in the 2012 election than Goldman Sachs, which has poured nearly $5 million into campaigns, parties and Super PACs.

Goldman Sachs employees have donated more than $600,000 to Mitt Romney's campaign. They have given about $100,000 to President Obama's re-election campaign.

Leans Democratic

Microsoft

Two-thirds of the $2.4 million that Microsoft employees and political action committee have given to federal candidates this year went to Democrats. Five Microsoft employees have given the legal maximum of $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee.

The company's employees have donated more than $387,000 to President Obama's campaign and only about $88,000 to Romney's campaign.

Leans Republican

AT&T

Employees and PACs affiliated with AT&T have put their money behind Republicans in every election since 1996, although the party split in 2008 was virtually even. So far this cycle, AT&T and its affiliates have thrown $2.7 million into federal elections, 66 percent of which went to Republicans or conservative groups.

The company's employees and PAC have given more to House Speaker John Boehner than to any other politician, donating nearly $103,000 to the speaker. AT&T has given close to $80,000 to President Obama's campaign and about $20,000 to Romney's.

Leans Democratic

Boston Celtics

Romney, along with wife Ann, turned out to support the Boston Celtics in their playoff game in May. But according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, the Boston Celtics are not turning out to support Romney's presidential campaign.

From 2009 through 2011, individuals associated with the Celtics have leaned heavily Democratic with 96 percent of the $212,150 they donated to political campaigns during that time going to Democrats.

Romney has multiple ties to the Celtics. Besides being the former governor of their home state, Romney used to preside over Bain Capital, the company where Celtic's co-owner Stephen Pagliuca now serves as managing director.

Pagliuca's $168,000 in political donations in the past three years made up the bulk of the Celtics partisan contributions. The co-owner has given the maximum not only to President Obama's re-election campaign ($5,000), but also to the Democratic National Committee ($30,800) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($30,800).

But the Celtic's president Richard Gotham put his money in Romney's camp, giving $1,000 to the GOP candidate. Danny Ainge, the Celtic's president of basketball operations, gave Romney $2,500.

Leans Republican

Houston Texans

The Houston Texans have been the most politically active team in the NFL for the past three years, according to an October 2011 study from the Center for Responsive Politics. As of March, the Texans have kept up their support for Republicans, with individuals associated with the team donating $192,000 to the GOP and its candidates.

The team's heavily Republican leanings result in large part from team owner Bob McNair, the CEO of an energy production company in Houston. McNair gave $215,200 to political causes between January 2009 and October 2011, nearly every penny of which went to Republicans.

The billionaire executive maxed out to Texas Gov. Rick Perry's primary campaign, giving $2,500 in September and gave the same amount to former presidential candidate Herman Cain in May 2011 and in May 2012 doled out an additional $2,500 to Romney's campaign.

McNair, whom Forbes ranked as the 303rd richest man in America, with an estimated net worth of about $1.5 billion, also poured $100,000 into the pro-Perry super PAC Make Us Great Again.

Texans' vice chairman Philip Burguières is also a big-dollar Republican donor. Both he and his wife Alice have given the maximum $30,800 to the Republican National Committee as well as $2,500 to Romney's campaign. Burguières also gave $30,400 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and $2,400 to Herman Cain's campaign in January 2011.

Leans Republican

Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban might not have given any of his estimated $2.3 billion fortune to support a political candidate, but it is no secret what side of the aisle he's on.

In an interview with ABC's Bill Weir last week, Cuban not only said he voted for Obama, but advocated for the president's plan to raise taxes on wealthy Americans such as himself.

"You're afforded all these opportunities in this country and there's a price to pay for it," Cuban said. "You have to adjust to the circumstances and I think in the current circumstances in this country, it's not a bad thing for people at my level of wealth to pay more taxes."

The Mavericks owner took a shot at Romney for trying to avoid paying his fair share by parking money in a Cayman Islands bank account. "I'm not trying to avoid any taxes down there, unlike certain Republican candidates are announcing," Cuban said, chuckling. "There's a price for success ... You got to pay."

Of the 23 NBA teams that made political contributions in 2011, the Dallas Mavericks ranked as the 16th largest donor. About 89 percent of the Texas team's $45,000 in political contributions went to Republicans, according to the most recent analysis from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Unlike the team's owner, its president and CEO, Terdema Ussery, put his money behind a Republican, former GOP candidate Tim Pawlenty to be exact, whom he gave the maximum $2,500 for his primary bid in July.

Mavericks guard Vince Carter, on the other hand, maxed out to Obama's campaign, giving the legal limit of $5,000 to support the president' re-election bid. Carter also hosted a $30,000-per-plate fundraiser for Obama and the Democratic National Committee at a private home in February.

No Large Donors

Chicago Bears

President Obama is devoutly supportive of his home teams when it comes to sports, which might be why he picked his White House meeting with the 1985 Super Bowl winning Chicago Bears team as his favorite Oval Office sports team meet-and-greet.

"That was probably as good as it gets," Obama told podcaster Bob Sullivan in March, after a belated ceremony honoring the Bears.

The initial White House ceremony for their 1985 Super Bowl win was cancelled because of the space shuttle Challenger disaster.

"To see how much they appreciated it, how much they had wanted that acknowledgment; it was a lot of fun," Obama told Sullivan.

Despite his deep ties to Chicago, the Bears have not donated to Obama's 2012 campaign. The only individual associated with the Bears who has donated to a political party or campaign is offensive coordinator Mike Tice, who gave $250 to Tim Pawlenty in April 2011.

Leans Republican

New York Jets

Romney's comment that he has "a lot of good friends" who are NFL team owners might not have helped him connect with the everyday American, but it has sure helped him raise money.

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson has given his "good friend" Romney $2,500 for his presidential campaign, as have three of the team's other executives.

Through the end of 2011, individuals associated with the Jets had given nearly $150,000 to political campaigns. Only the Houston Texans and San Diego Chargers have donated more.

In a March interview with Alabama radio host Paul Finebaum, Romney talked up his ties to pro-football team owners.

"I've got a lot of good friends -- the owner of the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets -- both owners are friends of mine," Romney said.

Leans Republican

Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross might be one of Romney's "good friends," as the candidate called him, but he is also a big donor to Romney's campaign.

Ross, a New York real estate tycoon estimated to be worth more than $3 billion, gave $2,500 to Romney's campaign and another $100,000 to the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Former Dolphins quarterback John Beck also contributed to Romney's campaign, although considerably less than his previous boss. Beck gave $400 to support Romney this cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Leans Republican

NASCAR

When Mitt Romney said he has "some great friends who are NASCAR team owners" he wasn't kidding. The racing association's top executives, or at least those who have given to political campaigns, have been almost across-the-board supporters of Romney's election.

NASCAR's president, two senior vice presidents and chief information officer have all donated $2,500 to support Romney.

Only the group's vice president of public affairs, Marcus Jadotte, had opted for a Democratic donation in the 2012 presidential election, giving $1,000 to Obama in June.

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