Dozens of Business Leaders Back Starbucks CEO's Pledge to Halt Campaign Donations
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told Fox News he wants to send a "powerful message" to Washington about frustration in the business world, announcing that more than 100 business leaders have endorsed his pledge to suspend campaign contributions until a long-term debt deal is reached.
Schultz first called for the cutoff about 10 days ago. Since then, a host of other CEOs have signed on, including AOL CEO Tim Armstrong; Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith; J. Crew CEO Millard Drexler; JC Penney CEO Myron Ullman; and Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb.
The Starbucks chief told Fox News their message is simple: "Do your job and give us the America we deserve." He said uncertainty over the country's finances has spooked the private sector, and they want Washington to show "real leadership" by striking a significant deficit-reduction deal.
"We need a long-term debt-ceiling deal that ... doesn't put a Band-Aid on this, but removes the level of uncertainty and the fracturing of confidence," he said Wednesday. "This is a crisis in America. It's a crisis of leadership, and it's a crisis in the economy. And we must send a powerful message to Washington that we're not satisfied."
Schultz said the recent decision by Standard & Poor's to downgrade U.S. credit was the result of a lack of confidence in politicians' ability to get things done.
Schultz is also calling on businesses to inspire "confidence" in the economy by hiring more people "now" -- as opposed to waiting for another government stimulus program. He has launched a website and Facebook page describing the dual pledges and enlisting supporters.
If Schultz's donation-boycott appeal strikes a chord with enough business leaders, the pledge could make a dent.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, contributions from business political action committees totaled $334 million in the 2009-2010 cycle.
Individual donations from the business community approached $1 billion, split about evenly between the two parties.
Schultz said the contributions are "obscene" considering "there's 9 percent unemployment in America."
The Starbucks CEO wants a halt to donations for all members of Congress and the president. He describes the effort as non-partisan. Over the years, Schultz has been a prolific contributor mostly to Democratic candidates. In 2007, he donated to then-Sen. Barack Obama, as well as Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, in the presidential race.