The League of United Latino Citizens is launching a national boycott of Wells Blue Bunny products because at least four members of the family that own the Wells dairy in Le Mars have financially supported Congressman Steve King.
Joe Enriquez Henry of Des Moines is a national vice president of LULAC — the League of United Latino Citizens. Henry today said King has sown “hate and fear” about Latinos with a string of statements, the most recent about how western civilization cannot be restored with “other people’s babies.”
“I think the message is pretty clear: stop hate,” Henry said.
Henry said in the past six years, Wells family members have given Congressman King more than $34,000 dollars in campaign donations and it’s time for the family to quit backing King.
“They’re the third-largest ice cream maker in the country,” Henry said. “When you look at our community, we are 58 million Americans with the buying power of $1.7 billion a year, so this will be the first opportunity for us to show our ability to do a consumer boycott.”
In March, after the LULAC 16 councils in Iowa announced a statewide boycott, Wells Dairy officials issued a statement, saying King’s recent comments “do not align with the values of our company.” But the company’s statement said everyone “has a right…as a private citizen” to make political contributions and what Wells employees “support personally is in no way an endorsement” of King by the Blue Bunny brand or the company.
LULAC is now calling on grocery stores across the country to remove Wells Blue Bunny ice cream and other products from the Le Mars business until the family that owns the company rebukes King.
“I think the publicity is going cause some significant damage to Wells Blue Bunny,” Henry said. “If they should decide then to denounce Steve King…then we’ll go down the list to the other major donors.”
Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican who has also received donations from the Wells family, has denounced King’s comments, including King’s prediction of a “looming race war between blacks and Hispanics.” But Branstad today said a boycott “isn’t fair.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to boycott a whole company and its products because some family members have contributed to a particular political candidate,” Branstad said during his weekly news conference.
Branstad called Wells Enterprises “a great Iowa company.”
“I have seen them expand and grow. I recently visited their headquarters in Le Mars. I think they employ over 2000 people,” Branstad told reporters. “They are a very important part of the Iowa economy and they are a great, family-owned business that has done a lot.”
According to the company’s website, Wells Enterprises makes 150 million gallons of ice cream each year. It is sold under “Blue Bunny” name as well as other brands like “Weight Watchers” frozen treats. Mike Wells, the company’s president and CEO, is currently chair of the International Ice Cream Association.