Howard Schultz
Howard Schultz believes that cutting off political donations is the best way to solve the current political crisis. Image: Flickr / sillygwailo / CC-BY-SD

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is annoyed with politicians. Rather than just expressing that annoyance, he has promised to cut off politicians where it hurts — in the campaign war chest. A few other businesses, such as the NASDAQ, have agreed to follow suit.

Schultz’s pledge

In an open letter sent to other business leaders and published by several newspapers, Howard Schultz outlined his plan:

“I am asking that all of us (forgo) political contributions until the Congress and the President return to Washington and deliver a fiscally disciplined long-term debt and deficit plan to the American people.”

In the last five years, Schultz has donated slightly less than $28,000 to D.C. politicians. The total amount of donations Schultz made are comparatively a drop in the bucket in the $5.2 billion or more spent on elections each year.

Recruiting other business leaders

Schultz believes that while pulling his political donations out of the system may not have a huge impact, if other business leaders do the same, it may be noticeable. The head of the NASDAQ exchange forwarded the letter to all companies listed on the exchange with the comment “I think that Howard’s idea is a great one, and I have told him that he can count on me.”

Doing the math on political contributions

The amount of money in politics has been increasing year by year. In 2008, the election cycle accounted for more than $5.2 billion. About 64.8 percent of all political contributions came from a small percentage of the population who donated in large amounts. Only about .04 percent of Americans gave to political campaigns in amounts less than $200. Cutting off political donations may have an effect on the actions of politicians, but it could take commitments to do so from a large number of the biggest political donors, rather than individuals.


ABC News
Schultz Letter posted by Seattle Times (PDF)

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