L.L. Bean leadership is pushing back against calls for a national boycott of the outdoor retailer in the wake of accusations that a board member violated federal elections rules with her financial support of President-elect Donald Trump.
Days after the Federal Election Commission accused L.L. Bean heiress Linda Bean of giving $55,000 more than allowed to a political action committee she bankrolled, an online campaign added L.L. Bean to its list of companies to boycott. The Grab Your Wallet campaign – launched in October in response to Trump’s comments about women – encourages consumers to avoid retailers that sell Trump products or whose owners support the incoming president.
Shawn Gorman, executive chairman of the L.L. Bean board and great grandson of company founder Leon Leonwood Bean, posted a statement on Facebook late Sunday night saying he was “deeply troubled” by the portrayal of the company and called the boycott campaign by Grab Your Wallet “misguided.” He said L.L. Bean does not endorse political candidates, take positions on political matters or make political contributions.
“We fully acknowledge and respect that some may disagree with the political views of a single member of our 10-person board of directors,” Gorman wrote. “Like most large families, the more than 50 family member-owners of the business hold views and embrace causes across the political spectrum, just as our employees and customers do. And as every member of the family would agree, no individual alone speaks on behalf of the business or represents the values of the company that (Leon Leonwood Bean) built.”
CAMPAIGN EXPLAINS TARGETING
Linda Bean’s support of Trump garnered attention last week when the FEC said she made excessive contributions to a political action committee she bankrolled to support Trump. She is a granddaughter of the company’s founder and one of 10 members of the board of directors.
Shannon Coulter, co-founder of the grassroots campaign Grab Your Wallet, said group members decided to add L.L. Bean to its list after the FEC released more information about Linda Bean’s contributions in support of Trump. She said Linda Bean’s political activities, including her association with the Council for National Policy, a group that supports socially conservative values, prompted the campaign to add L.L. Bean to the list. It did not include Linda Bean’s company, Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine, which does not have as high a profile as L.L. Bean.
“I understand why L.L. Bean is concerned, but they need to face the reality there are repercussions for their company’s brand and bottom line when consumers learn what their leaders are up to in terms of their politics,” Coulter said in a phone interview from her home in California. “If L.L. Bean thinks a part-owner and board member can engage in this activity and have it not affect their bottom line, that’s very naive.”
Coulter said she was offended that Gorman is “attempting to whitewash (Linda Bean’s) political activities within a spectrum of political causes among its owners.”
The Grab Your Wallet campaign began…