By Jacob Pramuk
In the years before he confirmed his plans to leave Starbucks on Monday, Howard Schultz took an active role in politics through both his words and money.
Schultz has previously denied speculation that he could run for president. Still, he indicated Monday that he will leave the door open to a career in politics once he exits his role as the coffee chain’s executive chairman later this month.
“I want to be truthful with you without creating more speculative headlines. For some time now, I have been deeply concerned about our country — the growing division at home and our standing in the world. One of the things I want to do in my next chapter is to figure out if there is a role I can play in giving back. I’m not exactly sure what that means yet,” he told Andrew Ross Sorkin of CNBC and The New York Times on Monday.
He told employees that he will think about “a range of options” from “philanthropy to public service.”
Schultz recently established himself as a player in the political world — in no small part thanks to his outspoken criticism of President Donald Trump. In his public comments and contributions, Schultz has portrayed a left-of-center political ideology.
In January 2017, he announced that Starbucks would hire 10,000 refugees over five years, only two days after Trump issued an executive order barring refugees from several Muslim-majority countries. In comments to employees the following month, Schultz said Trump created “chaos” that hurt the U.S. economy.
Last year, he criticized the Republican tax plan before Congress passed it in December.
“This is a tax cut. This is fool’s gold. [Trump] wants to take the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent for what purpose? Is that profit going to go back to the people who need it the most? Is that going to help small businesses? Is that going to help half the country that doesn’t have $400 in their bank account for a crisis? No,” he said at the DealBook Conference in November.
Schultz vocally supported Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, giving $10,800 to her joint fundraising committee with the Democratic Party. That year, he gave $1,250 to the campaign of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and $5,000 to VoteVets, an organization that works with progressive groups on issues pertinent to military veterans.
His contributions have not just gone to Democrats, though. This year, he contributed $50,000 to With Honor Fund, a cross-partisan organization that works to elect veterans.