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Reuters reports that at Starbucks' annual shareholders meeting later this week, attendees are expected to vote on a shareholder proposal that would ban the company from making political contributions or forming a political action committee (PAC).

The proposal actually builds on a movement begun several years ago when CEO Howard Schultz organized 100 of his brethren, getting them to "forswear campaign contributions till Washington came up with a plan to fix the nation's debt."

This new shareholder proposal is part of a national movement, Reuters writes: "Starbucks is one of 125 companies that have faced shareholder proposals over the last two years related to political spending, according to a March 7 report by the Sustainable Investments Institute, which tracks political spending and corporate governance issues.

"In votes held this year, 37 percent of VISA's voting shareholders and 31 percent of those of Accenture supported proposals to disclose contributions for lobbying, according to filings from both companies."

The story notes that "over the last three years, Starbucks made no direct political contributions, or operated a political action committee, according to the annual report to shareholders on its activity, though it paid dues to trade organizations that lobbied, it said. Its corporate policy, however, allows contributions to state or local candidates, political action committees or state ballot measures."

Starbucks management is against the shareholder proposal. "We rarely make contributions and when we do we're committed to doing so transparently," said Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson. "We believe that we have a responsibility to advocate for public policies that support our business, our partners and the communities we serve."
KC's View:
One expert explains that Starbucks does need some political flexibility ... wouldn't it need to get active if, say, someone wanted to ban caffeine?