Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s public moves towards running in the 2020 presidential race as an independent candidate have been met with skepticism and anger by many Democrats, who believe his effort will only ensure the reelection of President Donald Trump. The news has also caused many to examine, and then criticize, his financial history.
Schultz only donated around $18 million of his $3.4 billion net worth to his charitable foundation last year, amounting to 0.5% of his wealth, according to an analysis by the progressive news organization TYT.
As a comparison, fellow billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who in a statement this week poo-pooed independents’ chances of winning in what many believed was a veiled shot at Schultz, is worth $47 billion but has donated a far larger percentage to charity, including a $1.8 billion donation last November to improve financial aid at Johns Hopkins University. Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to donate 99% of his Facebook shares to charity.
The relative paucity of Schultz’s charitable giving is not the only critique of how he spends his money. Numerous former employees and contractors have claimed over the years that Schultz rewards people with custom-made $3 or $3.50 Starbucks gift cards - which have less value than the $5 cards available in stores, and often aren’t enough to buy a drink.
I love telling this story:
When Howard Shultz bought the Sonics, my friend worked there in sales. For Christmas, Shultz gave everyone a Starbucks gift card, for $3.
Back then you couldn’t buy a Sbx card for less than $5. He had those $3 cards custom made.
Merry Christmas!— Chirping from the bench (@taterpie) January 28, 2019
A former employee of the Seattle Sonics, the locally beloved basketball team that Schultz used to own before selling them to a group that moved them to Oklahoma City, wrote in the sports blog Deadspin that similar gift cards were awarded after the Seattle Storm, the women’s basketball team that Schultz also owned, won the WNBA championship.
Schultz has harshly criticized financial proposals from Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that would dramatically increase the marginal tax rates on billionaires like him.