The granddaughter of L.L. Bean's founder, board member and co-owner Linda Bean, financially supported President-elect Donald Trump's campaign, and now Trump's opponents are boycotting her company. But Bean is calling the boycott against her company a "smokescreen" for anti-Trump protesters' real intentions.
In Bean's view, the real goal behind the demonstrations is to kill jobs at L.L. Bean and 39 other retailers — including Macy's, Walmart and Amazon — that the group #GrabYourWallet is encouraging people to boycott.
According to its website, #GrabYourWallet is a movement that began in October on Twitter in response to the "Access Hollywood" tapes depicting Trump's lewd comments about women. The campaign is devoted to "the flexing of consumer power in favor of a more respectful, inclusive society."
The #GrabYourWallet website is encouraging people to contact the brands they list and tell their employees: "Hi. I’m a customer/fan of your brand. Unfortunately, I'll no longer be able to shop there because you do business with the Trump family. If you were to no longer do so I would consider returning as a customer. Please communicate my feedback to store management."
There are ulterior motives, though, according to Bean.
"It’s the bullies who want to go after, basically, our jobs," she told Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney Friday afternoon. "I believe it’s just a smokescreen because the effect of a boycott is to kill jobs — boycotts and bullies kill jobs." She did not explain why, in her view, her employees' jobs were specifically being targeted.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Bean contributed $60,000 of her own money to a PAC supporting Trump. While she said the donation was personal and not in any way connected to the family business, the Federal Election Commission said the contribution exceeded the PAC's individual donor limit of $5,000.
According to the Portland Press-Herald, the FEC told the PAC in a notice that it would face punitive action or an audit if it did not respond to inquiries about Bean's contribution. The group responded to the notice last week by amending their initial disclosure, and indicating that it used its funds on signs, Facebook, radio ads at 30-second TV spots in support of Trump.
Bean said she has received no notification from the FEC indicating she broke the law.
The L.L Bean heiress stated in a Thursday Fox News interview that the ensuing boycotts of her popular company "un-American." Responding to her appearance on TV, Trump, who takes the oath of office next Friday, tweeted his support for the clothing brand and encouraged his followers to buy L.L. Bean products.
Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean. @LBPerfectMaine— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1484229013.0
Trump's decision to publicly endorse the brand only served to further frustrate Bean's detractors. Many on social media slammed the president-elect for using his enormous platform to advertise for a private company.
@realDonaldTrump @LBPerfectMaine So unlike every other president...you only support the people who like you...not ALL AMERICANS.— Tony Posnanski (@Tony Posnanski) 1484229300.0
.@realDonaldTrump Oh awesome, the incoming President of the United States is running ads for political supporters. https://t.co/Ayk1Fizxci— Splinter (@Splinter) 1484229224.0
Bean, for her part, said L.L. Bean steers clear of making any sort of political endorsements or donations.
"It was not the company donation. It was my personal donation and the company itself stays politically neutral," she insisted, adding that her company has a "no endorsing" policy when it comes to politics.
However, despite the headaches, Bean said she would "absolutely" do it all over again because she sees it "as an opportunity."
"Every one of these setbacks gives you an opportunity to say how great America is," Bean explained. "How great it is to be free to vote for your own candidate and set the record straight."
When Varney asked her what it is like to be a conservative in the "upper-echelons of business," Bean sad it is "a strange paradox," citing the way the stock market rallied following Trump's surprise victory on Nov. 8.
"Those are the guys that are probably right there. Are they saying one thing and putting their money in another place?" she wondered, later acknowledging that she has always been "a little bit of a rebel" when it came to her political leanings.
In the end, she said she supports Trump because of his pledge to create jobs once he's in the White House.