James Bodenstedt, the largest Wendy’s franchise owner, has donated more than $440,000 to President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign since 2018, according to Business Insider. In March alone, Bodenstedt donated $200,000 to the president’s reelection efforts. News of the big-dollar donation prompted a backlash on Twitter, where #WendysIsOverParty began trending.
The news comes just after several Wendy’s locations announced they could no longer serve beef amid the meat shortages brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. In response to the announcements, Trump reassured Americans that he would speak to Wendy’s chairman Nelson Peltz to address the issue. In response, Wendy’s tweeted that some restaurants were experiencing meat shortages “[b]ecause we still believe that fresh beef is the only way to make great-tasting hamburgers, even in a national beef shortage.” The statement added, “thank you to all our loyal customers for standing by us, as we stand by our principles.”
Bodenstedt is the owner of MUY! Companies, which owns and operates a number of Wendy’s, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut franchises. According to Business Insider, Bodenstedt was one of the first fast-food CEOs to be invited to a restaurant industry roundtable at the White House to discuss the effects of the coronavirus. The roundtable included other prominent restaurateurs like Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary and Thomas Keller, a fine-dining mogul.
The Wendy’s Twitter account did not respond to the public outrage and calls to boycott. Wendy’s operates a famously vocal and successful Twitter page with roughly 3.7 million followers. May 29 was scheduled to be “National Roast Day” in which the company Twitter page would take shots at Twitter users. The event was rescheduled because “there are going to be better times for it.” The tweet did not mention the ongoing protests around the country over the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25.
Trump Has Received Campaign Donations From at Least 80 Billionaires, According to Forbes
In 2019, news broke that Stephen Ross, the owner of Equinox, SoulCycle and the Miami Dolphins, had hosted a $100,000-a-ticket fundraiser in the Hamptons for the president, according to Forbes. The news prompted a backlash against the brands. In the effort to spread information about companies that affiliate with the president, Grab Your Wallet has compiled a list of “wrongdoing” by certain companies, many of whom are on the list solely because they donated to the Trump campaign. Companies on the list for involvement in the Trump campaign include L.L. Bean, Coors Brewing Company, New Balance and Estee Lauder.
According to Forbes, Trump has also received campaign donations from at least 80 billionaires and their spouses. Major donors include Revlon chairman Ronald Perelman, U-Haul billionaire E. Joe Shoen, UFC and casino moguls Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta and Isaac Perlmutter, the chair of Marvel Entertainment, which controls TV and comic book content for the brand. Forbes added that Trump had not donated to his own campaign.
NPR assembled a comparison between the campaign finances of Joe Biden and Trump. While Biden leads Trump in individual donations of both “small-dollar” (less than $200) and “large-dollar” (more than $200) donations, Trump starkly outpaces Biden in “Transfers and PACs,” from which the president has received $104,602,999 compared to Biden’s $185,783. According to Forbes, most of the money coming from billionaire donors traveled through two major joint fundraising committees, Trump Victory and Trump Make America Great Again Committee.