Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Boycott the Blue Bunny?

Mmmmmmm!  Tasty, and just a few colors short of a rainbow.

Blue Bunny Ice Cream is finding itself at the center of a controversy. What could this company, the third largest manufacturer of ice cream in the United States, have possibly done to cause people to be calling for a boycott of its delicious products?

Well, it all starts with THE FAMiLY LEADER's 14-point Marriage Fidelity Pledge, which asserts (among other things) that homosexuality is a choice and that people of color had stronger family units during the era of slavery. 

The President of THE FAMiLY LEADER is Bob Vander Plaats, serial Iowa gubernatorial candidate and long-time anti-LGBTQ activist. Bob was one of the leaders behind the successful movement to recall the three Iowa Supreme Court judges who ruled that Iowa could not deny same-sex couples the right to marry. Bob believes that homosexuality is a "public health risk," just like second-hand smoke:

And here's Bob enjoying a relaxed moment laughing at a "fag" joke:

Now how could this involve something as innocuous as ice cream?

Bob enjoys considerable financial support from Mike Wells and his family, and Mike is the CEO and President of Wells Enterprises, manufacturers of Blue Bunny and Weight Watchers ice creams as well as Disney ice cream novelties. (You'll see the Wells family name featured prominently in the center of the Blue Bunny logo.)

Quickly responding to the growing controversy, Blue Bunny has posted the following statement on their website:
Regarding Recent Posts About Political Contributions: 
Blue Bunny and Wells Enterprises have never donated money to Bob Vander Plaat’s political campaign. Everyone, including our employees, has a right to support political activities within their role as a private citizen. What our employees support personally is in no way an endorsement by our brand or our company.

Technically, of course, they're right. Unlike Target, for example, Blue Bunny as a corporation has not contributed to Vander Plaats' political campaigns. But we're not talking about the contributions of an individual, low-level employee of Wells Enterprises. We're talking about the CEO and President.

Consider the contributions made by individual members of the Wells family:
  • $184,500 from Wells family members for Bob Vander Plaats' 2010 gubernatorial race. (The Wells family were the largest source of his campaign funding in 2010.) 
  • $246,000 from Wells family members for his 2006 gubernatorial race.
  • $25,500 from Wells family members for his 2002 gubernatorial race.
  • $25,500 to the Iowa Family Center PAC, a group associates with the FAMiLY Leader.

So even though the corporation may not have directly contributed to Vander Plaats, the fact is that most of the profits from your purchase of Blue Bunny's products go straight into the Wells family's pockets, and from there, into Vander Plaats'.

So, as much as I may like ice cream, as long as the Wells family continues to fund extreme right-wing candidates such as Vander Platts, I'm going to have to find a more friendly and supportive source to satisfy my addiction. Anyone care to join me for a dish of Ben & Jerry's Hubby Hubby?