Outdoor retailer L.L. Bean continues to find itself at the center of a political controversy this week. Today, the company received support from President-elect Donald Trump, who sent out a tweet encouraging people to buy products from the company.
Consumer backlash ensued after The Associated Press reported last week that Linda Bean, granddaughter of L.L. Bean founder Leon Leonwood Bean, made a $60,000 donation to a political action committee supporting Trump. Activist group Grab Your Wallet, which encourages people to boycott retailers that sell Trump products, subsequently added L.L. Bean to its list of suggested retailers to avoid.
Today, Linda Bean made an appearance on the Fox Business Network’s “Mornings With Maria,” telling host Maria Bartiromo that she considers the situation to be bullying.
“It’s bullying me personally. It’s [now bullying] the company that didn’t give the donation,” she said. “I gave the donation personally to a PAC to support Trump. And you know my cousin gave to Obama four years ago. And he gave many more times the amount I did. But the point is we should have that privilege. We live in America. This is a free country.”
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Bean said she does not have plans to resign from the company’s board, and according to her son, who is the vice chairman of the company, there has actually been a “slight uptick in business” as the controversy unfolds.
She also told Bartiromo that she and the company are concerned about what she described as “an attack on free enterprise.”
“I love this country,” Bean said. “I believe in the way this country was set up constitutionally and economically. [Grab Your Wallet] wants to control how we spend our money, what we buy, where we buy it. That’s wrong.”
Trump apparently got wind of the situation and sent out this tweet today, thanking Linda Bean and asking his followers to support the company.
Earlier this week, Shawn Gorman, a great-grandson of L.L. Bean and the company’s executive chairman, took to Facebook to address the issue in a lengthy post. He explained that Linda Bean is just one of more than 50 family members who are involved in the Freeport, Maine-based company and that “no individual alone speaks on behalf of the business or represents the values of the company that L.L. built.”
In a statement made this week, Grab Your Wallet co-founder Shannon Coulter said, “As fans of L.L. Bean’s products, everybody is hoping that the company is really seriously evaluating whether or not Linda Bean’s presence and contributions to the company are worth the damage she continues to inflict on L.L. Bean’s brand and reputation.”
Watch Linda Bean’s full interview below.