Karen Ocamb

New Balance Backs Away from Romney Donation

Filed By Karen Ocamb | August 11, 2011 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: James Davis, Mitt Romney, New Balance, NOM pledge, Rob DeMartini

Last week the Boston Globe reported on Restore Our Future PAC - a Super-PAC of 90 donors who contributed more than $12.2 million to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. According to the report on the filing with the Federal Election Commission, James Davis, CEO of New Balance Athletic Shoes contributed $500,000.

That prompted a response from Michael Jones at Change.org pointing out that Romney gone beyond being simply antigay by signing a "pledge" from the National Organization for Marriage:

The pledge Romney signed this past week, from the (officially dubbed a hate group) National Organization for Marriage, is particularly cruel, in that it argues that LGBT families should be broken apart, that same-sex marriage should be banned in the U.S. Constitution, and that married couples in places like Washington, D.C. should have their relationships voided.

But it gets even worse. When Mitt Romney signed the pledge, he agreed to — should he win the 2012 presidential race — appoint judges and an Attorney General supportive of banning same-sex marriage, and to appoint a Presidential Commission to investigate LGBT rights supporters.

Jones created a petition:

Send New Balance a message that this type of political support for divisive, anti-gay politics is unacceptable. The Chairman of the company is the public face of New Balance, and as such, his political donations reflect directly on the company. What’s their answer to Mitt Romney’s support for a hate group’s anti-gay pledge?

Andy Towle reported on Towleroad Wednesday that the company has responded with a statement on Facebook:

New Balance Statement on Political Donation
A letter from our CEO:

Dear New Balance associates, customers and consumers:

Earlier this year, a private donation was made by our Chairman to a political action committee that is affiliated with Mitt Romney. First, let me be clear that this was a private donation and not a contribution from New Balance. We encourage civic engagement at all levels and will always respect the right of any of our associates to engage in the political process as they see fit. We typically do not comment on private political donations; however, this situation is different.

Mr. Romney recently signed a pledge that challenges same sex marriage and that has offended many including those in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Mr. Romney's position on this issue is not reflective of Jim Davis', my or New Balance's position and support of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered community. As a company, New Balance embraces the differences in all people and we work tirelessly to create and sustain an environment where everyone - our associates, consumers, customers and guests - are treated with dignity and respect.


Rob DeMartini

Andy asks if this response is enough?

One more thing: also included in that FEC filing are the brothers J.W. and Richard Marriott of the Marriott Hotel chain, who gave $500,000 each.

(Crossposted at LGBTPOV. Photo: Company advertisement)

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It actually IS okay that Davis donated to Romney's campaign. It was a private donation and not a company endorsed one in any way. DeMartini's statement is probably genuine.

However, it also means that every time you buy a New Balance product, some of that money will inevitably go into Davis' pocket as private income. So even if New Balance itself is queer-friendly, do we want to give our money to them knowing that a significant portion of the company's profits goes to a man who then donates them as private income to anti-queer politicians?

I say "no". Sucks for New Balance, I guess.

Jim Davis and his wife Anne own New Balance. Every penny of profit goes into Jim's pockets. Every penny of the half million donation to Mitt Romney came from sales of New Balance products. The company is privately owned, there are no stockholders. There is no such thing as a private donation from a privately owned company. Too bad everyone including LGBT bloggers copy & pasted the lie told by Jim Davis's hired gun.

bigger question: where else does he donate?

a quick visit to opensecrets suggests he's hard-core republican, having been a substantial donor in '10 to the republican national committee ($25,000); new balance (the company) also donated $16,750 to scott brown in '10, making the company brown's 12th largest donor, further back (in 2002), new balance donated $1500 to support a republican candidate in the ma-05 congressional contest - and check this out:

new balance shares their principal lobbyist with koch industries, bluewater defense...and, oddly enough, zipcar.