Back in March, William Bolthouse, the former owner of Bolthouse Farms juice company, donated $100,000 to support Proposition 8 in California. The donation became public in June, at which time I also found that William Bolthouse and his wife were running the Bolthouse Foundation, a multi-million dollar charity that funnels money to political and religious right-wing operations, and had made donations to Gary Bauer and George W. Bush's campaigns.
After that, the company denied any connection to either William Bolthouse or the Foundation, stating that "The foundation is a separate entity and is not connected to Bolthouse Farms in any way." I found several connections between Bolthouse Farms and the Bolthouse Foundation. First, William Bolthouse's son-in-law, Andre Radandt, was the chairman of the board at Bolthouse Farms and was on the board of the Bolthouse Foundation. Second, the land Bolthouse Farms uses for farming was owned by a third entity, Bolthouse Properties LLC. Third, the Foundation was involved in actions seemingly to protect the interests of the juice company.
Now, Californians Against Hate is planning a demo for tomorrow in New York City at the Columbus Circle Whole Foods, and Bolthouse Farms has been working with their founder, Fred Karger, to try to prevent further actions against the juice company.
I have more information, too, after the jump.
Since I last posted on this subject, the company has changed a few things. First, they got a new CEO and chairman, Jeff Dunn. Dunn has personally donated $10,000 to the Task Force's work in California against Proposition 8 ($5000 to their Action Fund, and $5000 to sponsor a brunch) and previously worked as the director of Coca-Cola's diversity program.
Second, they clarified their diversity statement:
Bolthouse Farms' philosophical heritage manifests itself in business through the mutual respect, personal dignity and equitable treatment of all of our customers, employees, vendors and associates. The Company does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age mental condition, handicap, veteran status, sexual orientation, or marital status. Benefits are available for qualified dependents of same-sex marriages just as they are available for qualified dependents of heterosexual marriages. The requirements are exactly the same.
Sexual orientation's on it, but not gender identity. While this wasn't part of why people were upset with the juice company, they could really get on adding gender identity to their nondiscrimination policy and implementing diversity training to make their transgender employees' lives a little easier.
Third, their mission statement has changed. Here's what it was previously:
The purpose of this Company is to glorify God through our business transactions, our work, and our relationships. It is further our desire to bring honor and glory to the Name of Jesus Christ by following God's Word in all of our dealings with employees, suppliers, and customers. God's Work as contained in His Inspired Scriptures will be the final authority in all Corporate matters concerning direction, decisions, and disputes.
And here's what Bolthouse Farms' mission statement is now:
We are a market driven, fully integrated produce company. We are innovative in agricultural and packaging technology. Within the parameters of our Corporate Philosophy, our focus is to offer quality products at the lowest possible cost through a "state of the art" plant, quality raw material and the maintenance of trust and credibility with our customers, growers and employees.
It now sounds like something appropriate for a juice company.
Anyway, the company now cops to two connections to the Bolthouse family: Andre Radandt and the land.
Andre Radandt was William Bolthouse's protege back in the day and eventually took over the company for him. Currently, he's a non-executive member of the board right now, and he and his wife own 28% of the company (the other 72% is owned by Madison Dearborn Partners, a private equity firm in Chicago).
He was previously on the board of the Bolthouse Foundation, a charitable organization that gives millions of dollars to right-wing political and religious organizations, but, according to a company representative, he and his wife stepped down from the board last year over a "disagreement over politics." According to the Huffington Post, Andre Radandt hasn't donated to a political campaign.
After William Bolthouse was bought out in 2005, he kept the land that he owned. According to Bolthouse Farms, this makes up a "small percentage" of the land that they use today. They pay him a fixed rate as part of a long-term contract that does not depend on company performance.
Californians Against Hate, an organization that demonstrates against and boycotts companies that support Proposition 8, has been putting pressure on Bolthouse Farms. They're planning a demo:
New York, NY - Californians Against Hate will hold a small mid-day demonstration tomorrow, Saturday, September 27th at 12:30 pm in front of the Whole Foods Market - Columbus Circle Store, 10 Columbus Circle , New York , NY . The demonstration is part of a national campaign to ask American consumers to "Don't Buy Bolthouse" (Farms) fruit, vegetable and coffee drinks, carrots (they are the 2nd largest producer in the world) and Bolthouse Farms salad dressings.
Fred Karger told me over the phone that his organization is asking for a $100,000 donation to the No on Prop 8 campaign to balance out the one made by William Bolthouse. Bolthouse Farms has responded that they don't donate to any political campaign or action. Karger believes that William Bolthouse is still involved with the company and that the company hasn't been forthcoming with its records to prove that he isn't.
So there ya go. Since I blogged about this, the company has taken some substantive steps in the right direction. Both of their current connections to the Bolthouse family (that I could corroborate) aren't based on profits, so a boycott to affect the bottom line isn't going to change much of the company. They aren't all that strong either, but if you do have a problem with a percentage of your money eventually going to a homophobe, there is something to think about here.
But it is good to know that raising a ruckus on the internet can lead to some positive changes. Staying vigilant and watching where our money goes after we buy a product is as important as ever.