On this Election Day eve, Starbucks held "Wake Up and Vote" events at selected stores around Seattle.
"We never tell people how to vote or who to vote for, but we want to make sure that our partners -- and there are thousands of them in the Puget Sound area, especially here in Seattle -- and with all of our issues, we just want to remind our partners and our customers of their opportunity to vote and have their voice heard," said Starbucks Executive Vice President of Public Affairs John Kelly.
Kelly says Starbucks donated $30,000 to the business political action committee pushing for a more favorable Seattle City Council. That's far less than Amazon, which donated more than $1 million. Still, critics see another huge corporation trying to elect a more favorable City Council.
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Amy Dayley Angell, who is a grocery checker and member of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, said, "Corporations should not be allowed to buy elections."
Critics said they are also suspicious of the letter Kelly sent to employees. He wrote , "In some instances, we've had to make difficult decisions to close stores that face too high a risk for partners and customers ... and while closing stores remains a last resort, we may need to repeat that approach given the state of public health and safety in our city."
Asked if the letter is a threat, Kelly responded, "I think the letter made very clear that we don't ever tell people how to vote or who to vote for but that all elections are about change and, if you like the status quo in Seattle, I think you just need to take a walk down Third Avenue at any time of day."
Seattle University political scientist Marco Lowe responded to the possibility that there could be a backlash at the ballot box. "How (voters) view Seattle and where they fall on the debate on homelessness and housing will probably be a bigger lead than ‘I'm going to vote against something because of the money,'" he said.
Cox Media Group