- Fox Business
L.L. Bean has said that it aims to stay out of politics. A tweet from President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday morning, however, has further fueled a controversy the Maine-based brand has faced over the last week.
On January 6, it was revealed that Linda Bean, granddaughter of the company’s founder, Leon Leonwood Bean, had donated $60,000 to a pro-Trump PAC during the candidate’s campaign, according to The Associated Press.
On Thursday morning, Trump published a tweet thanking Linda Bean for her support.
Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean. @LBPerfectMaine
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2017
According to the Office of Government Ethics, executive-branch employees are not permitted to “suggest that the agency or any part of the executive branch endorses an organization (including a nonprofit organization), product, service, or person.” However, that rule does not apply to the president or the president-elect, the New York Times reported.
It was later revealed that the PAC that Bean donated to, Making America Great Again LLC, was not registered to accept individual donations over $5,000 and is currently facing scrutiny from the Federal Election Commission. According to the AP, the PAC opened its books on Thursday to show that Bean had donated only $30,000 to the effort, not $60,000 as it had previously claimed.
The FEC told the group it could face an audit or punitive action if it didn’t respond, according to a letter obtained by the AP. In response, the group said it would seek to reregister as a super PAC that is allowed to raise unlimited funds from individual donors. The PAC’s chairman, David Jones, told the AP that he thought it was already registered as such.
- Getty/Joe Raedle
The incident has subjected the Maine-based L.L. Bean, which is famous for its water-resistant shoes and outdoor gear, to scrutiny. The brand is now facing a boycott by the Grab Your Wallet group, which has advocated avoiding products made by companies that support Trump, companies with owners who have publicly supported Trump, and companies that sell Trump products.
“The reality is that there are serious repercussions for a company’s brand and bottom line when consumers learn it does business with the Trump family or helped to fund Donald’s rise to political power,” Shannon Coulter, cofounder of the Grab Your Wallet movement, told the AP.
Bean responded to the boycott on Thursday in an appearance on Fox Business Network.
“It’s bullying me personally,” Bean told host Maria Bartiromo. “They want to control how we spend our money, what we buy, where we buy it. That’s un-American.”
Bean also told Fox Business that she won’t resign from L.L. Bean’s board and that her son, who serves as vice chairman, has noted an increase in fan letters and a “slight uptick” in business since the reports.
L.L. Bean responded to the boycott on Sunday in a Facebook post written by its executive chairman, Shawn Gorman, who said that Linda Bean is one of more than 50 family members involved in the company.
“No individual alone speaks on behalf of the business or represents the values of the company that L.L. built,” Gorman wrote, referring to the company’s founder. “L.L. Bean does not endorse political candidates, take positions on political matters, or make political contributions. Simply put, we stay out of politics. To be included in this boycott campaign is simply misguided, and we respectfully request that Grab Your Wallet reverse its position.”
Campaign finance reports show that people linked to the company frequently donate to both Democratic and Republican causes, according to the AP.
L.L. Bean did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.