New Balance: “Please Don’t Hate Us Because Our Chairman Gave $500K To Mitt Romney”

Dear New Balance associates, customers and consumers:

Earlier this year, a private donation was made by our Chairman to a political action committee that is affiliated with Mitt Romney. First, let me be clear that this was a private donation and not a contribution from New Balance. We encourage civic engagement at all levels and will always respect the right of any of our associates to engage in the political process as they see fit. We typically do not comment on private political donations; however, this situation is different.

Mr. Romney recently signed a pledge that challenges same sex marriage and that has offended many including those in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Mr. Romney’s position on this issue is not reflective of Jim Davis’, my or New Balance’s position and support of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered community. As a company, New Balance embraces the differences in all people and we work tirelessly to create and sustain an environment where everyone – our associates, consumers, customers and guests – are treated with dignity and respect.

– A letter from New Balance Athletic Shoes President and CEO Rob DeMartini responding to the public outcry after sources revealed Jim Davis’ $500,000 donation to a Political Action Committee supporting anti-gay GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Is it possible for Davis to donate the money he made from New Balance to Romney without also supporting Romney’s anti-gay views? Is it enough for New Balance simply to say, “Oh, Davis doesn’t support that part of Romney’s campaign?” Or must Davis and New Balance now donate to a pro-LGBT group to offset the damage caused by Romney’s hurtful rhetoric?

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  • Fitz

    Nice words.. but at the end of the day, a piece of my purchase trickled it’s way into
    Mitt’s campaign. And, as a company, their chairman (not just “some employee”)
    is a faith-based homophobe. That reflects poorly on New Balance’s ability to pick leadership.

    Besides, no one buys New Balance anymore, do they?

  • Cam

    He only has that money because of his job. So next pair of running shoes I buy is Brooks.

  • tjr101

    Yeah, you gays just keep buying our products and we will keep making “private” contributions to further dehumanize you, but in no way does it represent our business!

  • milhouse

    They make a decent cheap shoe, but the decision to support someone who has vowed to take away all of my rights if a step too far. They can take all of their shoes one by one and cram them up their collective ass.

  • christopher di spirito

    No, New Balance embraces the dollars spent by LGBT customers. Sorry New Balance but you can’t have it both ways.

    Thanks Queerty for posting this. I had absolutely no idea the CEO of New Balance is a Romney supporter. I don’t plan on buying their shoes again after learning about this.

  • Spike

    “As a company, New Balance embraces the differences in all people and we work tirelessly to create and sustain an environment where everyone – our associates, consumers, customers and guests – are treated with dignity and respect.”

    SPIN SPIN SPIN . . . As a company . . blah blah blah . . . but our CEO doesn’t agree.

    NIKE !!!!!

  • Scott Rose

    It certainly isn’t creatingan environment of dignity and respect when the company’s profits are going towards enhanced political persecution of LGBT Americans. If New Balance is serious about dignity and respect, its Board will oust this chairman and replace him with somebody dedicated to equality. There are Republican candidates who favor equality; New Balance has no excuse.

  • Skeloric

    We need a proper “Boycott Watch”, giving us a comprehensive list of all homophobic companies.
    We can start by placing New Balance at the top of the list.

  • Austin - not That Austin

    Before we start another boycott…..
    aren’t New Balance shoes made in America
    and both Nike & Brooks shoes made in China ??

  • Skeloric

    And the HOMOPHOBIA is American made as well, does not speak well for “American made”.

  • Scott Rose

    For Immediate Release

    August 10, 2011


    This is to urge full and complete and relentless reporting of the $500K which New Balance’s Chairman Jim Davis has contributed to the presidential campaign of the conscienceless gay-bashing Mitt Romney.

    Romney recently signed the so-called National Organization of Marriage’s “pledge” which commits the signers to expanding the political persecution of LGBT Americans.

    New Balance has released a completely unacceptable spin on this crisis — it’s President Rob DeMartini has fraudulently claimed that New Balance “works tirelessly” to create an environment in which everybody is treated with “dignity and respect.”

    As is seen in the case of Bradford Wells and Anthony John Makk, the long-time committed and loving married couple about to be split apart because of DOMA, there is no such thing as a company “working tirelessly” to treat human beings with “dignity and respect” if the company’s Chairman is enabling the enhanced political persecution of LGBT Americans.

    If New Balance is serious about seeing LGBTers treated with dignity and respect, its Board will oust Jim Davis and replace him with somebody actually committed to dignity and respect. After ousting Davis, the company will make amends by contributing regularly to equality-positive organizations and/or political candidates. Failing substantive action, New Balance should be fiercely boycotted.

    Scott Rose

  • Riker

    Oh please. By calling for a nationwide boycott, how much less do you think their chairman will earn? Not a single cent.

    Instead you’re going to hurt the hardworking American factory workers who are going to be laid off to hold onto their revenue. Workers who have done nothing to us. And if they make shoes for a living, chances are they don’t have the necessary skills to make it in too many other places.

  • Scott Rose

    @Riker: http://news.change.org/sto?ries/new-balances-ties-to-?fiercely-anti-gay-politics
    You might know New Balance as the major brand of shoes and athletic wear found at marathons, road races, and gyms around the country.

    Here’s what you might not know about the company: their Chairman, James Davis, has given upwards of $500,000 to Mitt Romney’s campaign for President — the same Mitt Romney who just signed a viciously anti-gay pledge from the National Organization for Marriage that amounts to a full-on assault on the civil rights of LGBT Americans.

    New Balance’s Davis was revealed as a major donor to Romney’s campaign this week, after a filing with the Federal Election Commission disclosed a number of Romney’s top supporters. With a $500,000 donation, Davis is quite the Romney backer. And as such, his cool half million is going to support a Presidential campaign that has taken a sharp and increasingly anti-gay turn.

    Which is why it’s time to send New Balance a message asking whether they stand by their Chairperson’s donation to an extremely anti-gay politician who wants to take marriage rights away for same-sex couples. Send the company a message now.

    The pledge Romney signed this past week, from the (officially dubbed a hate group) National Organization for Marriage, is particularly cruel, in that it argues that LGBT families should be broken apart, that same-sex marriage should be banned in the U.S. Constitution, and that married couples in places like Washington, D.C. should have their relationships voided.

    But it gets even worse. When Mitt Romney signed the pledge, he agreed to — should he win the 2012 presidential race — appoint judges and an Attorney General supportive of banning same-sex marriage, and to appoint a Presidential Commission to investigate LGBT rights supporters.

    And the Chairman of New Balance is happy to give a candidate who supports this anti-gay platform half a million dollars? So much for New Balance being known for its shoes. It’s now known as the company with the Chairman who’ll give $500,000 to fund an extremely anti-gay candidate for President.

    Send New Balance a message that this type of political support for divisive, anti-gay politics is unacceptable. The Chairman of the company is the public face of New Balance, and as such, his political donations reflect directly on the company. What’s their answer to Mitt Romney’s support for a hate group’s anti-gay pledge?

    Earth to New Balance: your customers are waiting for an answer.

  • Pete n SFO

    @Riker: I see no issue w/ the expectation that the Chairman be booted. His actions have put a “Target” on the back of the company which has taken much effort to announce that its products are made in the USA.

    In today’s instant, info-sharing world, a company no longer has the privilege of having it both ways… the deserved good-will you generate for being American-made is effectually cancelled out by support of anti-American discrimination.

    The company understands that, thus their press-release. That you seem not to either speaks to your small world view, lack of intelligence, or more likely… both.

  • demandequality

    Jim Davis owns New Balance. It is not publicly traded. All profits go into his pocket. He privately donates his New Balance profits to support gay bashing Mitt Romney. End of story. Boycott New imBalance.

  • CJ

    I really wish that people would look beyond the headlines and do some research.

    Jim Davis is one of the few businessmen remaining that have fought to keep jobs inside the USA. While 99% of the shoes we buy today are imported, New Balance is one of the only shoe companies that still has manufacturing facilities inside the USA, unlike Nike and almost all others that have sent ALL of their manufacturing jobs to countries that are VERY, VERY, VERY anti-LGBT friendly and offer NO support to their LGBT employees. Should we boycott Nike for making billions of dollars by sending jobs to anti-LGBT countries? Of course Davis is going to throw his money behind Romney, who is ALSO from Massachusetts.

    And, in spite of his donation to Romney, New Balance recently donated $7 million to fight childhood obesity and other humanitarian causes. This is during tough financial times when most companies are struggling and shutting down US manufacturing plants. Davis himself has given over $70 million to his Alma Matter, Middlebury College which definitely leans politically liberal and IS supportive of LGBT students – with transgender friendly restrooms, pro-LGBT classes, etc. That college was one of the first to give LGBT applicants “affirmative action” standing and was rated as one of the most “gay friendly” colleges back when being LGBT friendly wasn’t politically correct.

    So, as much as we dislike Davis supporting Romney, I’d hardly throw him under the bus for doing so. It makes business sense to support a candidate from his own state AND Davis has given 140x money to a college that is not only supportive of LGBT students, but is proactive about it. Like I said, why not boycott the companies that are sending jobs overseas AND to countries that are strictly anti-LGBT friendly? At least Davis is trying to keep his employees in the USA where New Balance doesn’t discriminate against its LGBT employees. Besides, as anti-LGBT that Romney might be, he’d be better than ANY of the other leading Republican candidates re: gay rights.

  • Pete n SFO

    @CJ: so, are you faulting people for acting on their own conviction, or faulting Davis because he doesn’t have the balls act on his own convictions by vocally standing with us?

    His company gets it, or there wouldn’t be a press release. How does a man as experienced as he, not get it? The answer, he does.

    Few things are as easy as black & white in this world, but participating in funding my own discrimination, is certainly not in that category.

    So, the guy is extraordinarily wealthy & shrewd. Does that make the discrimination less so for the gay people that might not have the laws or access to protect themselves as you and I might?

    You could do less with ‘research’ and more with reason.

  • Scott Rose

    @Pete n SFO: It isn’t as [email protected]CJ: New Balance seems to be doing A.O.K. with President Barack Obama. Tomorrow, for example, the company is opening a huge new store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. What’s more, the are Republican candidates who have not signed NOM’s gay-bashing pledge to enhance political persecution of LGBT Americans. LGBT Equality, and New Balance’s business success, are not mutually exclusive. New Balance’s Chairman Davis should condemn the NOM pledge, fault Romney for signing it and request a return of his $500K donation to the Romney for President campaign.

  • Pete n SFO

    @Scott Rose: Well, there’s some irony for ya… New Balance opens on 5th Ave, right after the State recognizes Marriage Equality. Well, I hope people show up for the celebration.

  • xander

    I share the disgust at New Balance, yet let’s not confuse the CEO (DeMartini) with the Chairman (Davis). Two different people, two different roles.

  • Cinesnatch

    New Balance was one of the first athletic shoe brands to introduce wider width options to accommodate those who didn’t have a traditional slim foot. I’ve been purchasing the 993’s for over a decade. Damn. Now, I have to hunt down another shoe. Any suggestions?

  • xander

    I share the disgust with New Balance, let’s not confuse the CEO (Davis) with the Chairman (DeMartini). Two different people with different roles.

  • Danny Ross

    I’m glad to learn about this donation to Mitt Romney’s campaign. I will not be buying any more New Balance running shoes. I mostly don’t care about Romney’s stand on gay marriage – it’s sort of de regueur for most Republican candidates, Gary Johnson notably excepted – but Romney is exceptionally phony even for a politician and if he is nominated I for one will be voting 3d party.

  • Elloreigh

    As a private citizen making a private donation, Davis can do as he pleases. And so can LGBT people who have a problem with their purchases enabling him to do so.

    Too bad for New Balance, but the simple fact is that you can’t expect us to parse a private donation to politicians advocating anti-gay policies, separating that action from the other things Davis apparently supports that led him to make a donation to Romney. Nor can you expect us to separate Davis’ private donation from your company. The linkage is there, like it or not, fair or not.

  • Fitz

    @Cinesnatch: Try Skeetchers. Believe it or not. They now have wide and extra wide, and at their higher end they have good arch support.

  • the crustybastard

    If I discovered the chairman of a corporation donated half a million bucks to Aryan Nations, I would no longer do business with that corporation.

    It is no different when I discover that a chairman donates toward any other form of bigotry.

    Too bad. I liked New Balance shoes.

  • Jim

    …because any support of a politician is an endorsement of all of their positions held currently or in the past and of all things he or she has said in their lifetime. Not only that, but this action by one of their top employees represents a full endorsement of the same by New Balance. How very Glenn Beck of you, Queerty.

  • Steve

    I will not buy NB shoes again. But then, they don’t fit my feet, so I wouldn’t have bought them anyway. I doubt that such a boycott would have any effect on the election, in any case.

    Can any one suggest a more-effective method of preventing bigots from being elected?

    Perhaps — by supporting the candidates who oppose them…

  • Skeloric

    Too many Pro-bigotry “sock puppets” around these days, always trying to protect the bigots.
    “But the shoes are American Made, so we can’t oppose this bigotry!”
    “We can’t confuse the actions of the OWNER of the company with the company itself!”
    We’re onto you GOPROUD folks, stop trying to force your rhetoric onto us.

  • damon459

    @Austin – not That Austin: Actually according to NB own website they only make 25% of their shoes here the other 75% are imported from China. Check out their FB page make people were upset to get shoes that said made in china on them. Also even if they made all of them in the states I wouldn’t spend money at a company that’s willing to donate 500,000.00 to someone like Mitt Romney.

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  • Smithy

    Here’s a radical idea – JUST DON’T VOTE FOR ROMNEY (that is if you even bother) that way Davis is down $500,000 and Romney doesn’t become President and doesn’t enact his anti-LGBT marriage agenda.

  • Henry

    @Steve: Yeah, but boycotting a company wouldn’t be about the election. It would be about sending a message that they can’t spend money to set back LGBT rights.

  • Queer Supremacist

    I’m glad I took up minimalist running. I never wore a pair of New Balance shoes in my life, and I won’t start now.

  • BillCooney

    I’d sooner go barefoot than buy a pair of New Balance shoes. Discrimination and bigotry are what they are wether this is a private donation or a corporate donation. This is not a publicly held company so, the contribution to the Romney campaign is an affront to the LGBT community. It’s obvious that we won’t be voting for Mittens but, I’d like to see a matching donation go to a candidate or committee supporting LGBT rights!

  • David B

    Looking at many of these comments really shows the problem with political discourse and our society in general. Everyone jumps on the us vs. them, black & white, “if you’re not with us you’re against us” mentality.

    If you want to express your distaste with this CEO’s contribution by not buying New Balance shoes, fine. Go right ahead. But don’t act like everyone who isn’t calling for the utter destruction of that company is a gay-hating bastard or a self-hating homosexual. Is that really where we’re going to go as a group? Starting to call each other “Uncle Tom’s” (or perhaps “Aunt Mary’s”)?

    I have news for you: People have the right to hold different opinions than you do!!! And just because someone doesn’t agree with your every opinion doesn’t mean you should react as if they are personally attacking you!!!

  • ewe

    I will never purchase New Balance product. I stopped buying at Macys when they took down the Boston window display when they were accused of supporting gay marriage. I don’t EVER drink Bolthouse juices. The list goes on and i do honor it out of respect for myself and others and will continue to do so until they officially make amends to gay people. End of conversation.

  • ewe

    To be clear an amends consists of terminating Jim Davis. Anything else is a bunch of bullshit and talk. So that means Fuck the fuck off New Balance.

  • xander

    Jim Davis is the founder of New Balance and the Chairman of the board, not the CEO. The company itself didn’t write the ‘check’ to the superPAC, but of course some of its profits and his compensation as Chair went toward that sum.

    NewBalance is the only major shoe manufacturer with actual manuf, operations in the US (although they already have put many jobs off-shore)

    Due to trade negotiations with China and Viet Nam those remaining operations may well be transferred to one or both of those countries. Those jobs are likely to end up overseas even if Davis recants, which seems unlikely. He’s one of the 600 richest people in the US, per Forbes.

    Their shoes never fit me well anyway but oh yeas, I would boycott then if I were a customer.

  • sandy

    Waste Management of Los Angeles is teaming up with the Los Angeles Sparks (WNBA) for the ‘Bag your Shoes’ campaign happening now! The goal is to collect 1,000 pairs of shoes! Come down and “recycle” your shoes, see you at the game! http://youtu.be/jk1mH9JvRr0

  • MassGuy

    @Fitz: I do because they fit my fat feet. But I guess I’m finding a new brand

  • Jerry

    I, too, refuse to support the campaign of Romney by making his backers rich enough to provide huge donations that corrupt our system. Bought the first replacement pair and threw away my first pair of New Balance shoes. Two more pairs to go.

Comments are closed.