Schultz’s boycott idea may not make much of a dent

By Laurie Bennett

August 16, 2011 at 11:40am

Starbucks chief Howard Schultz may be overestimating the political largesse of his fellow CEOs.

Schultz, fed up with the partisan bickering in Washington, has called for a campaign contribution boycott.

One way to change behavior in Washington, he argues, would be to stop feeding the political machine, which spends more money each election cycle.

Howard Schultz
Howard Schultz

He has shared his idea with other business leaders.

But unlike Schultz, who has given more than $60,000 since 2007, many chief execs of major public corporations give little or nothing directly to campaigns.

A prime example is Steve Jobs. The FEC has no record of any campaign contributions by the billionaire chief of Apple since 2006. In prior years, Jobs made sizeable contributions to Democratic committees.

An examination of donations since 2007 by CEOs of the 100 largest public companies in the U.S. shows that more than 90 percent gave to campaigns.

But many prominent execs gave small amounts (particiularly relative to their compensation), or gave to political organizations that are exempt from reporting donors.

Michael Duke, whose compensation as head of the nation’s largest company, Wal-Mart, exceeded $19 million last year, gave just $6,300.

Muhtar Kent, a multi-millionaire who heads the Coca-Cola Company, gave a total $13,120 during the period, much of it in twice-monthly payments of $208 to the company PAC.

Of course, campaign giving by corporate PACs involves far bigger amounts and far more influence. Maybe Schultz should instead call for the abolition of company PACs and trade group lobbies.

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