Photo illustration by Megan Bender

Editorial: Follow the Money

Many companies were outed on social media for funding political advocacy groups.
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Companies outed on social media for funding political advocacy groups

A long list of companies that use profits to fund pro-Trump advocacy groups was recently published to several social media sites.

This scandal begs an important question, are our purchases worth it if they support a larger cause, or person, we might not necessarily support ourselves?

Companies including SoulCycle, Equinox, CVS and Taco Bell were just a few of those exposed on Twitter and Instagram.

SoulCycle and Equinox were the first two companies to feel the heat. Equinox was quickly trending on Twitter but for all the wrong reasons. With hashtags such as: “#BoycottEquinox” and “#BoycottSoulCycle,” both companies went under fire from paying subscribers.

The social media frenzy didn’t go without notice for long, as both gym facilities soon released a public disclaimer on social media. Both claimed that the day-to-day operations are in no way affected or influenced by the owner, Stephen Ross, and his political affiliations.

The boycott continues as news of Ross hosting a fundraiser for Trump in the Hamptons surfaced with tickets costing as much as $250,000.

SoulCycle and Equinox were not the only major players under scrutiny.

The boycott hashtag trend lives on with CVS. “#BoycottCVS” was created as the company donated $35,000 to the Trump Victory PAC (Political Action Committee), becoming one of four biggest donors involved in the reelection campaign. Additionally, they donated $500,000 to America First Policies in 2018.

America First Policies, is a “non-profit organization supporting key policy initiatives that will work for all citizens in our country and put America first,” however, Mike Pence’s face is the first thing you see upon opening the homepage of the website; giving a strong indication of who is involved and what political beliefs are represented.

Recently, the organization has been accused of being racist, homophobic, sexist and anti-Muslim after several outbursts containing these sentiments from the advocacy director were found online.

Taco Bell, specifically the Taco PAC, is reportedly one of four companies to donate the most to the Trump election campaign in 2016. In regards to the 2020 election, however, no donations have currently been made to the Trump PAC.

There are larger consequences to the spending decisions we make. This new information should make us challenge our mindfulness behind the actual value behind a purchase, knowing our money, in a way, is going toward supporting a larger cause. Ultimately, losing leverage and control over our money and what it is funding is an uncomfortable reality.

However, between public disapproval and social media boycotts, the power in being a consumer is important to remember. Consumers have the power to persuade companies. All the recent public outcry towards Taco Bell has coincided with the withholding of any 2020 campaign donations from them and that is no coincidence.

Regardless, the power of being a consumer is something we often forget and take for granted. The next time you find yourself in a Taco Bell drive-thru, ask yourself: is the taco really worth the dollar?

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