March 15, 2013

Starbucks Shareholders and Customers to Call on CEO Howard Schultz to Lead Way on Getting Corporate Money Out of Politics

SEATTLE – Shareholders and customers will hold a press conference Tuesday, March 19, the day before the annual Starbucks shareholder meeting. The press conference will be held outside the Starbucks at Pike Place Market to call on CEO Howard Schultz to “make coffee, not contributions.”

Consumer groups, led by WashPIRG and Public Citizen, will deliver more than 21,000 petitions asking Schultz to institute a corporate policy at Starbucks against spending money in elections and to reach out to fellow CEOs to do the same. Schultz in 2011 called on his fellow CEOs to stop making campaign donations until gridlock ceased in the nation’s capital; at Tuesday’s event, people will call on Schultz to match his actions to his words.

Investor groups, represented by Green Century Capital Management and Newground Social Investment, among others, are delivering a letter with the same message, signed by shareholders representing more than $2.2 billion in assets.

The call to action comes in the wake of the first presidential election cycle after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, which gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited sums to influence elections. Outside spending in the 2012 elections jumped four-fold over 2010 — much of the money coming from undisclosed corporate sources. The groups contend that unlimited spending by corporations distorts our democracy and threatens to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. This week, the groups held days of action across the country, taking photos of Starbucks customers holding up posters shaped like cups, labeled “Democraccino and carrying the words, “Be Our Hero: Make Coffee, Not Contributions.”

WHAT: Press conference led by consumer groups and shareholders to call on Schultz to institute a policy against political spending at Starbucks, followed by the delivery of more than 21,000 petitions and a letter from investors to Starbucks headquarters.

SPEAKERS: Bruce Herbert, chief executive, Newground Social Investment
Erin Gray, board member, Green Century Capital Management
Erin Larkin, Western States field organizer, U.S. PIRG
Kelly Ngo, legislative assistant, Public Citizen
Michael Padilla, student, University of Washington

GREAT VISUALS: Hundreds of photos of Starbucks customers holding “Democraccino” cups that say, “Be Our Hero: Make Coffee, Not Contributions”

WHEN: 11 a.m. PDT, Tuesday, March 19

WHERE: Starbucks at 1912 Pike Place, followed by Starbucks headquarters at 2401 Utah Ave. South, Suite 800, Seattle

Public Citizen is also collecting petition signatures from supporters: www.citizen.org/starbucks-schultz-election-spending-petition.

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