President-elect Donald Trump thanked Linda Bean of L.L. Bean on Twitter this morning, telling his millions of followers to support the retail company.
This was a response to Bean coming under fire for donating $60,000 to a Super PAC that supported Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election. Grab Your Wallet, a liberal group, advocated this week for a boycott of L.L. Bean due to Linda Bean’s support of Trump.
As has often been the case, Trump’s tweet also appears to be a reaction to something he saw on cable news; he sent the tweet just about an hour after Linda Bean appeared on Fox and Friends. In the interview, Bean said that she won’t back down and that this boycott is “very much a case of bullying.”
Linda Bean is the heiress of the L.L. Bean company and the granddaughter of Leon Leonwood Bean, the company’s founder. Here’s what you need to know about her.
1. She Twice Ran for Congress as a Republican
Linda Bean’s support for Donald Trump isn’t completely surprising. She is a Republican, and she even ran for office twice.
In 1988, Bean sought the Republican party’s nomination for representative of Maine’s 1st congressional district. She lost in the primary, with Edward O’Meara becoming the Republican nominee; O’Meara ended up losing to Democrat Joseph Brennan in the general election.
Bean then ran again for the same Congressional seat in 1992. This time, she won the Republican nomination, but she lost in the general election to Democrat Thomas Andrews, who received 65 percent of the vote. Bean never again ran for public office.
Like Donald Trump, Bean spent thousands of dollars of her personal fortune to run for office. According to The New York Times, during her 1988 Congressional bid, Bean spent $500,000 of her own money.
Bean used to be a Kennedy Democrat but became a Republican in part because of her second husband, Verne Jones, a farmer who was fiercely opposed to the growing power of his town’s planning board, The New York Times reported in 1992.
2. She Has Been Donating to Republicans For Years
Linda Bean is now facing scrutiny for her donation of $60,000 to Making America Great Again, LLC, a Super PAC supporting Donald Trump. But Donald Trump was not her first pick for the Republican nomination.
According to Open Secrets, during the 2016 election cycle, Bean also donated $35,000 to CARLY for America, a Super PAC supporting the candidacy of Carly Fiorina. She also donated about $15,000 directly to Rand Paul, another presidential hopeful in the 2016 election; Trump once insulted Paul’s physical appearance during a Republican primary debate. In addition, Bean donated to the Republican National Committee all throughout the election.
It was not until after it became clear that Donald Trump would be the Republican party’s nominee that Bean donated any money to him; her first donation to Trump came in June 2016.
During both the 2012 and the 2008 election cycles, Bean supported Ron Paul, donating thousands of dollars to directly to Paul and to Revolution PAC, a Super PAC supporting Ron Paul for president.
Bean has also donated to many local Republican candidates and to the Republican Party of Maine.
According to The New York Times, Making America Great Again LLC, the PAC that Bean donated thousands of dollars to, was not originally registered as a Super PAC. Instead, it was registered as a standard political action committee. Contributions for a standard PAC are capped at $5,000, and so that would make Bean’s contributions illegal. The group is now saying that some of the money actually came from Linda’s sister, Diana Bean.
3. She Once Compared Obama to Hitler
In 2012, Linda Bean wrote a letter to Maine Republicans in which she made the argument that libertarians needed to get on board with Mitt Romney even though they wanted Ron Paul to be the nominee.
According to the Portland Press Herald, Bean in this letter compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler.
“OBAMA is HITLERIAN in his course, and he is closing in VERY FAST to eliminate totally our liberty rights and heritage,” she wrote.
Bean went on to say that if Barack Obama is re-elected, “America as we know it may well be gone in four years.”
“We are on the precipice of losing our country!” Bean said. “4 years from now we may not even have a ballot.”
4. She Owns a Lobster Restaurant Called Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine
Some were confused by the fact that Donald Trump tagged a seemingly unrelated lobster restaurant in his tweet. But this is a restaurant owned by Linda Bean called Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine. There are several of these located throughout the state of Maine, and their lobsters are also sold to grocers.
In 2013, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) published an undercover investigation showing inhumane treatment of lobsters at the company’s slaughterhouse, with the lobsters having their limbs ripped off and being boiled alive. PETA then organized a campaign involving plastering “Linda Mean” signs all over Maine; the signs read, “Linda Bean’s slaughterhouse rips apart live lobsters and crabs. End the suffering.”
Shortly after, Delaware North, a food service management company that provides concessions at Boston venues, announced they would no longer be purchasing lobsters from Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster. Bean responded by saying that PETA was launching a “full scale attack” on Maine’s lobster industry.
“The lobster industry is too important a pillar in Maine’s economy to allow this to continue,” she said, according to the Portland Press Herald. “Thousands of Maine jobs are affected in key industries including our fisheries, maritime businesses, wholesale and retail markets, tourism, and Maine’s very active restaurant industry. Maine would not be the same if it lost this vital industry that supports and sustains so many jobs and families.”
A representative for Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster later told PETA that the company is no longer slaughtering lobsters at the processing plant in question.
5. L.L. Bean Says It Does Not Endorse Politicians or Take Political Stances
After Grab Your Wallet advocated for a boycott against L.L. Bean, the company took to Facebook to say that it is “disappointed” in this because Linda Bean is just one of over 50 family members involved with the business.
The company wrote on Facebook, “we are deeply troubled by the portrayal of L.L.Bean as a supporter of any political agenda. L.L.Bean does not endorse political candidates, take positions on political matters, or make political contributions. Simply put, we stay out of politics. To be included in this boycott campaign is simply misguided, and we respectfully request that Grab Your Wallet reverse its position.”
Grab Your Wallet says it will not reverse its position on the boycott until Linda Bean is removed from the company’s board of directors.
“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,” Shannon Coulter, co-founder of Grab Your Wallet, said, according to Maine Public.
Over 1,000 Facebook users reacted to L.L. Bean’s Facebook post with the “angry” face, and the page was flooded with comments telling the group to remove Linda Bean from its board.
“She may be one of 50+, but she’s a Board member,” one Facebook user wrote in a comment that received 28 thumbs up. “At some point you need to accept responsibility. You can attempt to guilt us into ignoring what us a fact or you can own up to the fact that this is how many people in this country will choose to react.”