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?