WHEREAS: The role of money in politics is a highly contentious issue.
WHEREAS: Our CEO, Howard Shultz, has championed a boycott of donating to political candidates as a solution to our broken political system.
WHEREAS: Our company tends to make few political contributions. According to our own website, in 2012 Starbucks contributed no money to candidates running for state or local office; state or local political parties and committees; entities operating under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code and other tax-exempt organizations when such contributions are used for political purposes; nor financially supported any issue or ballot campaign.
The shareholders request that the board of directors amend the bylaws to include a policy prohibiting the use of corporate funds for any political election or campaign, including direct or indirect contributions to candidates, and corporate expenditures for electioneering communications.
The proponent believes this policy should include any direct or indirect contribution that is intended to influence the outcome of an election or referendum. It should also prohibit the use of trade associations or non-profit corporations from channeling our company’s contributions or membership dues to influence the outcome of any election or referendum. “Expenditures for electioneering communications” means spending directly, or through a third party, at any time during the year, on printed, internet or broadcast communications, which are reasonably susceptible to interpretation as in support of or opposition to a specific candidate.
The proponent does not believe using corporate money to fund political campaigns or politicians equates “to being actively involved in the communities we serve,” nor does the company educate “elected and public officials about our business” by giving them or their campaigns money. There are numerous better ways to serve the community and educate politicians. Starbucks should continue to provide leadership to reduce the corrupting influence of money in politics to delegitimize the practice of “pay to play.”
The proponent believes that providing money to politicians would undermine the “clean” reputation deservedly earned by our company boycotting the political contributions process. Donating company funds to political candidates’ and public officials’ campaigns does not insure or guarantee that our special interests will be protected and/or expanded, and therefore is not in the best interests of our shareholders and certainly does not increase shareholder value, company credibility or integrity.