February 4, 2019
Since Howard Schultz announced his presidential aspirations on 60 Minutes in late January, Democrats have gone into panic mode—fearing that the former Starbucks CEO will filch votes from their column in the 2020 election.
According to a February 1 report by The Daily Beast, American Bridge, a progressive super PAC that focuses on opposition research, already has compiled its first “oppo” hit against Schultz, who would run as an Independent candidate.
Indeed, the news outlet says, the PAC pitched its reporters on a story about Schultz’s charitable foundation—suggesting that “he uses it to minimize his personal tax bill even as the foundation spends lavishly on executive compensation and overhead.”
The group’s oppo pitch against Schultz piggybacks off of reporting by Fox Business that found Schultz gave less than one percent of his fortune to Schultz Family Foundation during the last fiscal year for which its tax filings are available.
Bridge dug into the foundation’s expenditures and found that it “used its tax-free funding to spend lavishly while Howard Schultz receives tax deductions,” according to a research document the group shared with The Daily Beast. It focused on $400,000 in furniture expenses during fiscal year 2016, and its executive director’s $21,000-per-month salary.
The foundation’s latest annual financial filing discloses that Schultz and his wife, Sherri Kersch Schultz, donated $18 million in the year ending June 2017. The foundation gave out about $7.6 million in grants in that time, and spent just under $2.2 million on operating and administrative expenses, including compensation.
“The country is sick and tired of egomaniacs who think tax policy should be made by and for the rich. Apparently, Howard Schultz didn’t get that memo,” Bridge spokesperson Andrew Bates said in an emailed statement to the news outlet. “The only person who would benefit from a Schultz candidacy is Donald Trump.”
What’s more, The Daily Beast notes, Bridge isn’t the only prominent Democratic super PAC eyeing an offensive against Schultz. Priorities USA Action, a group founded by Bill Burton, one of Schultz’s top consultants, has also threatened to go after him if he declares a presidential candidacy.
“We would consider him a target,” the group’s Executive Director Patrick McHugh said last week. “We would do everything we can to ensure that his candidacy is unsuccessful.”
Schultz has said that he will take a few months before deciding whether or not to formally enter the race. But already he’s taken steps that have given off the impression that this is more than just a vanity project—and could constitute a political threat to a Democratic candidate.
Research contact: Lachlan.Markay@thedailybeast.com