On Thursday, Democratic State Sen. Claire Celsi of West Des Moines, who represents Iowa Senate District 21, shared with her followers on Twitter that she boycotts ice cream made by Wells Enterprises, Inc. based in LeMars, Iowa and encouraged them to do the same. The company is best known for its Blue Bunny Ice Cream products.
Why? Because members of the Wells family, who own the company founded in 1913, supported Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King from Kiron who represents their district.
”I’d considered buying this new brand of ice cream. I flipped it over to see what company manufacturers it. Wells – the same family business that makes Blue Bunny and supports Steve King. Buyer beware!” she tweeted.
The most recent donations for King from any Wells family member was in 2016 with Mike Wells, the president and CEO of Wells Enterprises, Inc., and his wife, Cheryl, donating $10,800 towards King’s re-election campaign (This has been corrected, I originally said $16,200, originally searching this on my phone led to a math error. I apologize for the error). According to FEC records, no Wells family member contributed in 2018, and no family member has given, so far, to his 2020 campaign. Caffeinated Thoughts did not find any Wells family member donations to King’s 2020 primary opponents either.
According to Open Secrets, Wells Blue Bunny donated $10,800 to King in 2016 but Caffeinated Thoughts did not find any documentation on the FEC website confirming that and, in fact, Wells Blue Bunny said in 2018 that they do not make political contributions, but do not prevent family members from donating to candidates. What OpenSecrets noted were the individual donations made by Mike and Cheryl Wells.
Liberal organizations like MoveOn.org and LULAC have advocated a boycott. This type of boycott is not unusual; conservative organizations have boycotted companies for donating to liberal causes like Planned Parenthood as well. The chief difference between their boycott of Blue Bunny and the conservative organizations’ boycotts is that in the case of conservative boycotts the company directly donated the money to a liberal cause or organization.
Those are special interest groups. I can not recall any elected official in Iowa advocated for a boycott of an Iowa-based business, especially one that is a major employer (they employ approximately 2800 people) because the owners made private donations to a candidate they do not like.
Celsi’s call for a boycott of this iconic Iowa-based business is irresponsible. It’s also misleading as the company has not donated to King and Wells family members have not given to King since 2016. If she wants to engage in this kind of behavior, she should go back to the private sector, but it is unbecoming of a state legislator.
Update: I was challenged on Twitter after I tweeted about this.
I didn’t. This is why I said, “I don’t recall.” Feenstra’s call to boycott Des Moines over the Water Works lawsuit, something Des Moines area businesses had nothing to do with, is just as irresponsible as what Celsi did.
Unfortunately, liberals ARE boycotting Wells. I did not see a huge movement out of rural Iowa to boycott Des Moines however.
Photo Credit: Claire Celsi