Starbucks CEO enlists cos. to cut money to pols until U.S. debt addressed
As originally appearing in The Boston Herald

By Brendan Lynch


Photo by Kevin Lee

Corporate titans fed up with Washington gridlock have decided to hit President Obama and members of Congress where it hurts — in their campaign accounts.

The initiative, spearheaded by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and supported by prominent business leaders including Cambridge-based Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith, seeks to withhold contributions to political campaigns until a long-term, bipartisan deal is struck on the national debt.

“Over the last few weeks and months, our national elected officials from both parties have failed to lead,” Schultz wrote this month in an open letter to fellow corporate leaders. “They have chosen to put partisan and ideological purity over the well-being of the people. They have undermined the full faith and credit of the United States. They have stirred up fears about our economic prospects without doing anything to truly address those fears. They have spent a resource even more precious than the dollar: our collective confidence in each other, in the future and in our ability to solve problems together.”

That letter has sparked a campaign called Upward Spiral, complete with a Facebook page where more than 1,600 people have pledged not to open their checkbooks, and more than 200 businesses have pledged to hire more workers.

Among the more than 100 executives who have agreed to withhold donations and “accelerate employment” is Griffith, whose popular car-sharing service went public earlier this year, according to a follow-up letter Schultz sent out this week. Griffith was not available for comment yesterday.

Others who have signed up include AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, Entercom Communications CEO David Field and Nasdaq CEO Bob Greifeld.

Jim Brett, president of the New England Council, called the campaign an interesting way to get politicians’ attention. He told the Herald he didn’t see any downside to the political stance.

“They’re just weighing in, and saying, ‘Hey, you guys have to get your act together and work together,’ ” Brett said. “Stop kicking the can down the road, because that can’s becoming a barrel and getting bigger and bigger.”

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