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Clothing co. with long history of support for liberal causes plans to close all stores Election Day

Outdoor clothing company Patagonia, which is known for its environmental and political activism, has announced that it will close all its stores on Tuesday to encourage its employees and customers to vote in the midterm elections. (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD / AFP)

Outdoor equipment company Patagonia, which was founded by environmental activists and has openly endorsed Democrats, plans to close all its stores on Tuesday in order to encourage all its employees and customers to vote. According to a report in The Hill, Patagonia also closed all their stores for election day in 2016.

Patagonia was founded by environmental activist Yvon Chouinard, an avid rock climber who has made billions off the Patagonia retail empire. Patagonia specializes in men's and women's outdoor gear that is — at least according to Patagonia — produced in environmentally-friendly ways.

Patagonia gear is found in many clothing and outdoor stores, and also in a number of proprietary stores that exclusively sell Patagonia merchandise. These latter stores will all be closed on Election Day.

A statement on Patagonia's blog strongly implied that corporate offices and production facilities will also close on Election Day, so that "every one of our U.S. based employees can vote."

Patagonia's announcement is part of a Time to Vote campaign that is supported by a number of major U.S. companies that have made efforts to provide employees with adequate time to vote. A majority of states also require employers to allow employees some amount of time off to vote on election day, although there is not a federal law to this effect, and many states do not require that companies give "paid" time off to vote.

While Patagonia's participation in Time to Vote is allegedly nonpartisan, company leadership has been openly critical of President Donald Trump, and the company itself has both endorsed and donated to Democratic candidates this election cycle.

Last December, Patagonia reacted to President Donald Trump's decision to reduce the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments by replacing their normal corporate website with a blazing placard that claimed that "in an illegal move" President Trump "stole your land."

In October, Patagonia also issued official corporate endorsements of Democratic Senate candidates Jon Tester in Montana and Jacky Rosen in Nevada. Almost all of Patagonia's corporate giving to political candidates has likewise gone to either Democrats or other left-wing candidates.  Only once has the company ever donated to a Republican, giving $500 to former Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood's campaign in 1990.

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