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National Resturant News

Fast Food CEO Donates 400K to Trump

The donation has bought the CEO an advisory role in reopening the country

Kris LaGrange's picture
May 20, 2020

The election is just months away and with falling poll numbers Trump is relying heavily on big business CEOs to bail him out. Some of those CEOs lead the largest fast food and restaurant chains in the country.

The group, which met with Trump on Monday includes Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary; Jose Cil, the CEO of Burger King and Popeyes' parent company, Restaurant Brands International; Thomas Keller, a fine-dining restaurateur; and Muy Cos. CEO James Bodenstedt (Muy Cos operates hundreds of Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut franchises across the United States.) According to FEC records, Bodenstedt is a major donor to Trump, having donated $440,000, including $200,000 to the Trump Victory PAC on March 12, just days before states began shutting down in-person dining.

Bodenstedt isn’t the only chain restaurant CEO to donate to Trump. Tilman Fertitta, the billionaire CEO of Landry's — which owns restaurant brands such as Bubba Gump, Del Frisco's, and Joe's Crab Shack — is also speaking on the roundtable. Fertitta donated $35,000 to the Trump Victory PAC in February.

While it is not uncommon for CEO’s to give political donations to a sitting President, especially a Republican one, the concern comes as Trump has offered these CEO’s a prominent spot in his COVID-19 response. Friendly CEO’s have been brought into his briefings and used to develop a plan for economic recovery. They are also pushing Trump on reopening the economy before it is safe to do so and lobbying for liability protection in case employees get sick on the job.

Other donors that have appeared at Trump’s Press Conferences including the F Rated MyPillow CEO Michael Lindell, Ray Washburne, the CEO of M Crowd Restaurant Group, and the Vice Chairman of the Trump Victory Fund, and Jockey International CEO Debra Waller.

"While it's nice that these business owners want to help the government fight coronavirus, it confirms that cronyism is at the root of practically every decision President Trump makes," Donald Sherman, the deputy director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told Business Insider in April. "It's loyalty or patronage to Trump that gets you at the top of the list, whether it's a place on the White House lawn to promote your business, input in the coronavirus response, ambassadorships, and even IG positions."

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