New Balance Distances Itself from $500K Donation by Chairman James Davis to Anti-Gay PAC Backing Mitt Romney

In response to revelations late last week that New Balance Chairman James Davis had donated $500,000 to the campaign of NOM-supporter and anti-gay GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, the company has responded with a statement on Facebook.

Davis 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.

Sincerely,

Rob DeMartini
President/CEO

Here's the pledge they're referring to, if you missed it last week.

Change.org had demanded answers from the company. Is this sufficient?

(image source)

Comments

  1. james says

    Yes. For me it is sufficient. The donation came from the private funds of one individual, the Chairman (NOT the CEO), and not from the company. He has the legal right to make donations to the candidate of his choice, just as I have a legal right to make similar (much smaller) donations. I might change my mind if there are further revelations of donations to Mr. Romney directly from the corporation.

  2. Bill says

    In a word, “NO”.

    While your chairman is certainly welcome to support whatever candidates and issues he pleases, I am also welcome to spend my dollars with companies who leaders are not trying to legislate me out of existence.

  3. justinw says

    @prophet: You have it exactly right.

    Not that I’m a big fan of trainers, but it’s good to know that I can discount NB from *ever* getting a single penny from me.

  4. Pete n SFO says

    So, yes… officially we abhor discrimination.

    But, please take solace in knowing that with the purchase of every New Balance product, you are now in fact, funding your own.

  5. David in Houston says

    I have no problem with this. I don’t think we should expect companies to control their employee’s private actions (however repugnant we find them). New Balance has made it clear that they do not share the views of one of their chairmans.

  6. JKM says

    Same crap that came from Jockey underwear when their President went off the rails two years ago. Love your money, hate you. Now please keeping buying our sh*t so that we can share it with your executioners. Stopped buying Jockey, eating at Chick-Fil-A and will now stop buying New Balance shoes.

  7. Dastius Krazitauc says

    Anti-gay pledge aside, surely Jim Davis knew of Romney’s general anti-gay positions. $500k is a huge donation, so Romney must have something that REALLY appeals to Mr. Davis for for him to consider the anti-gay positions incidental.

  8. kodiak says

    The paragraph regarding “Mittens” recently signing a pledge against marriage equality is a little iffy. Romney is Mormon, therefore it’s understood(to me at least) that he will represent the church’s stance on the issue, which is no, no, no. The statement about him signing the pledge makes it seem like Davis had no idea until Mittens put pen to paper. After all, who was the big funder and pushed hard for Prop 8 in California? The mormon church, remember? Knock knock, yoo-hoo! helloooooo-anybody home?
    Sure, he makes a “private” donation, but where did the money come from? Surely not the sale of shoes! A curious aside-where are the shoes made? USA? Offshore? Hmmmm. And why did the President apologize for the CEO? Shouldn’t the CEO be issuing his own statement? He states in the letter his “support for the gay, lesbian…, etc” but if the CEO is supporting a candidate that is in no way going to support lbgt rights, just how exactly does that qualify as support? It says to me that we(New Balance) will support lgbt rights only as much as the government says we have too, and no more. And if getting our business agenda behind a political candidate means denying rights to individuals, so be it.

    Just sayin.

  9. Bob R says

    No more Nike’s. No more New Balance. Not that I ever purchased either. Puma and Adidas were founded by ex-Nazi’s (now dead), but the company has had labor issues (low wages, etc) and pollution issues. Which is a shame because I really liked Puma’s, but won’t buy them. Even Converse, an all America company, is now made with cheap materials and labor overseas. So what’s left? Bare feet, I guess.

    I think Chairman Davis should resign for the good of the company. I sure do wish we could get money out of politics. Publicly funded elections will be this nation’s only salvation. As it is now, our government is bought and controlled by corporate America and is in fact a plutocracy.

  10. Andrew says

    I would take their apology more sincere if the company donated to pro equality movement. Perhaps they do, I am unaware, but until then their apology is merely what “Prophet” posted.

  11. NY2.0 says

    Many companies with anti-gay sympathetic chairmen/presidents will have this as a template now as they make even more political contributions in the future.

    This statement is as hollow as it gets. In other words, “you gays should keep buying our products and we will keep using that money to make private contributions that in no way represents the views of our company.”

    They want to have it both ways.

  12. walter says

    his money comes from nu balance. in turn it comes from the people buying their product. so boycotting these shoes will deny the chairman large bonuses to give to people who hate us. their are a lot of other companies out making trainers. beside i thought there was a limit to how much an individual can contribute to a candidate.

  13. Travshad says

    @David in Houston, Mr. Davis is not just an employee of New Balance. He is the owner of the company. New Balance is a privately held company, so there really is no seperation between Mr. Davis and his company.

  14. X says

    Argh screw that! New Balance is anti-gay and wants Mitt Romney to ruin our lives. Why should we give money to people that only hurt us?? Sorry, but I don’t need to support homophobes.

  15. Clem says

    Everyone who gives money to a candidate or cause uses the money they earn from their employment, and companies shouldn’t dictate what their employees, including the CEO or Chairman, does with their money. It is just plain wrong to tell people they don’t have free speech rights. However, if someone is the owner–and I mean the only substantial owner, not someone who owns a chunk of the company–then I would boycott their products.

  16. luminum says

    Even if DiMartini is sincere and NB strives to be inclusive and they do not endorse anti-gay politic, it doesn’t change the fact that when I pay money for their shoes, Davis will inevitably get a cut of that money.

    Regardless of whether it is his private donation (which is well within his rights, and I would never forbid him from exercising his right to political choice), it only means that I do not want to fund a financial supporter of anti-gay politicians in any way, if I can help it. And in this case, it means not putting my money into the company where he derives his private income.

    Sorry NB, but Davis screwed the pooch for you.

  17. David Henderson says

    People keep getting upset that businesses and business leaders make donations to pro-business candidates. Unfortunately, most pro-gay candidates are NOT seen as pro-business; if they were, maybe there would be more donations by companies to those people instead.

    “Do I support the candidate who supports this company, or do I support the candidate who wants our workers to unionize against us (costing us more money), and wants to impose even stronger regulations on my company (while not imposing those same regulations on smaller businesses, making us lose our competitive edge)?” Not a difficult question at all. They will, and SHOULD, support the candidate who benefits their company the most.

  18. AJ says

    What cracks me up is that if the tide started to turn and they found out that they could make a ton of money by hating us, you can bet they’d be singing a different tune. All of their deeply held beliefs about equality would fly out the window. It’s all about money and protecting their bottom line.

  19. Bryan says

    A CEO who supported the Klan would render any company radioactive. How is this different?

    Given that our corporations have acquired more rights under law than we ourselves are entitled to, it hardly seems unfair to hold them to a higher standard.

    If we judge them by the company they keep (and we should), New Balance is a corporate bigot which seeks to create second class citizens in violation of the US Constitution.

    Boycott and expose them.

  20. justme says

    Damn it to hell, now I have to stop buying New Balance shoes??? I really, really, really don’t want to, but I have bought my last pair. Thanks for nothing, New Balance!

  21. AG says

    @David Henderson: You’re absolutely right. Donations to Republican politicians are often not about gays, as seems to be the case here.

    Gays, stop hyperventilating, this is not about you.

  22. ohplease says

    I appreciate that New Balance has sent out paid PR shilss to this comment section, but all the shilling in the world doesn’t change reality:

    Mitt Romney chose to make himself an enemy of humanity and fight specifically for my elimination from the human race.

    James Davis made a donation to Romney that is far in excess of — dare I say — everyone’s annual salary here, in some cases many, many times over.

    Any money I give New Balance allows James Davis to donate money to people who want to see me dead.

    Therefore: New Balance gets no more money from me.

    This will change when James Davis is no longer with the company and not a moment before.

    Happy shilling, scum!

  23. AG says

    A CEO who supported the Klan would render any company radioactive. How is this different?
    *******

    Well, maybe because outside of fever swamps of left-wing web sites people don’t think that a mainstream Republican from Massachusetts in any way or form resembles the Klan. He beats Obama in the polls.

  24. TonkaManOR says

    I will continue to buy New Balance. Their statement is enough for me. I can’t wear any other athletic shoes because of sizing issues anyway. But, where does it end? Don’t buy Pizza from Domino’s(Nasty), don’t buy Nike, don’t use Verizon for phone service, really? so what happens when we can’t purchase any goods from any companies?

  25. AG says

    Mitt Romney chose to make himself an enemy of humanity and fight specifically for my elimination from the human race.
    **********

    And I thought the Klan comparison was the silliest thing in this thread.

  26. Stephen says

    In another perspective, what if it was the KKK to whom he donated his money? He would be fired. He is not fired, ergo, company doesn’t care that much about us. We should make them care.

  27. Ian says

    New Balance has since deleted this so-called “apology” from it’s Facebook page, along with all the responses and posts questioning their hypocrisy. My 992’s go in the trash tonight and I will NEVER buy anything else from NB.

  28. Chris says

    New Balance also owns PF Flyers. New Balance also has several licensees, including Moretz Sports, Eyewear Designs Ltd., Fitness Quest Inc., Franco
    Apparel Group, Packworks, and Hickory Brands.
    Write them and tell them you will not support their brands. go to newbalance.com

  29. mike says

    I think it’s sufficient. Davis may own the company, but he has every right to spend his money as he sees fit just as it’s our right to be displeased and hold him to account. In all honesty though, if we held all corporations responsible for the political contributions of their generally conservative management teams there would be very few goods and services for us to buy.

  30. Michael says

    Nooooooooooo!!!! This is such a shame to read. I’ve been running in NB for years… Fantastic quality shoes. Now I have to find a new brand or feel guilty whenever I wear them. :(

  31. Jessica Naomi says

    Rob DeMartini runs New Balance. Jim Davis and his wife own this privately owned company. His private donation was made from the profits he made from his privately owned company.

  32. Jotto says

    @ AG…you know what? it is about the gays..for me..always..also, its clear that your smart, ok? so stop picking on people that make comments you don’t agree with. Your snarky tude makes you seem stunted and a bore.

  33. datlaw214 says

    Luke’s Locker, in the heart of the Oak Lawn area of Dallas, is where I bought my last NB shoes. No longer. Bill is spot on…

    ‘While your chairman is certainly welcome to support whatever candidates and issues he pleases, I am also welcome to spend my dollars with companies whose leaders are not trying to legislate me out of existence.’

  34. Scott Rose says

    New Balance Chairman Jim Davis (Jim.Davis@NewBalance.com) OWNS this company with his wife. It he wants to show that New Balance actually is committed to dignity and respect for LGBTers, he will condemn Romney for signing NOM’s pledge, and request that Romney return his $500K donation.

  35. says

    You shouldn’t donate to hate and then expect everyone to excuse you. It may be a financial issue rather than a anti-gay one, but Romney is still both. And with such a large donation, he should have some sway w Romney if he’s really so gay-friendly.

  36. TJ says

    New Balance shoes are made in America (Kodiak asked about this above).

    The chairman made a donation from his private funds. The company itself did not make the donation. This IS an important distinction. The company does include sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination policy. Perhaps a top executive agrees with certain positions held by a Republican candidate and which you find abhorrent. But the chairman didn’t say he made the donation based on Romney’s opposition to gay marriage.

    Be careful about jumping to conclusions. It only took a couple minutes to find out New Balance has policy protecting gay employees. And that they make their shoes in the US has been part of their marketing campaign for years.

  37. ajp says

    i have run with NB for almost 30 years..guess i need a new running shoe..but adidas and puma are out?? what would be ok??how do we get this out to everyone

  38. Redebbm says

    Huh, i needed new running shoes. SORRY New Balance. No sale for you. Im sick and tired of the anti gay agenda companies support in order to get their money to Republicans, and even more upset at a more cynical agenda of Mitt “Job Killing” Romney. Literally so, that man made his living on firing individuals.

  39. Ken says

    Even though this is a private donation, the money came from salary and bonuses he earned because people are buying their shoes. So if you buy their products some of the money you pay is going to anti gay causes. I won’t buy their shoes any more. It’s the same reason I no longer see movies at Cinemark or Century movie theatres (CEO supported Prop 8), even though I have to drive a few miles farther to see a movie, it’s worth it to me to know he’s not getting any of my money.

  40. Steven says

    I think that this is an honest attempt, but it in no way closes the books on the controversy. Whether “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” or not, a chairman of a company has to understand that any action he takes (personal or professional) will have consequences on the company.

    According to the letter, Jim Davis doesn’t agree with the pledge. In order for this letter (and New Balance’s and Jim Davis’s reputation in the LGBT community) to have any weight, some heavy lobbying is in order. If Mitt Romney wants to keep receiving large donations, he needs to listen to those donators. Instead of New Balance donating money to pro-LGBT organizations, I would recommend that they (Jim Davis, Rob DeMartini, etc) show that they are communicating with Romney on what they think of the pledge and their personal views on lgbt issues.

    If more center-right republican nominees (Romney has a past record of quite socially liberal policies) saw that not only their constituency, but also their big-business supporters don’t agree with that pledge and other anti-lgbt issues, we might actually have a non-crazy republican candidate.

  41. Richard says

    Very disappointing. I like the shoes, but I cannot be complicit in contributing to those who would hurt the gay community in ways large and small…he’s legally free to do it, but I am also free to take my business elsewhere.

    SHAME ON HIM! SHAME ON ANY OF US WHO CONTINUES TO BUY THESE SHOES.

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