FACT CHECK: Is Olive Garden Funding Trump’s Re-Election Campaign?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook more than 2,300 times claims that restaurant chain Olive Garden funds President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.

Verdict: False

A campaign finance database shows parent company Darden Restaurants has not donated to Trump’s re-election campaign. Darden Restaurants employees and their family members have made individual contributions to a leadership PAC, candidates and party committees.

Fact Check:

The hashtag #BoycottOliveGarden trended nationally on Twitter late August after a list of food companies supposedly financing Trump’s re-election campaign went viral. Olive Garden, an Italian-themed restaurant chain, appeared on that list.

Some tweets focused solely on Olive Garden allegedly making campaign donations to Trump. Similar claims also appeared on Facebook. (RELATED: Was Jane Fonda Denied Service At A Restaurant Run By A Vietnam Veteran?)

“Olive Garden is funding Trump’s re-election in 2020,” reads one such post. “It would be terrible if you shared this and Olive Garden lost business.”

The restaurant chain took to Twitter Aug. 26 to dispel the rumor.

“We don’t know where this information came from, but it is incorrect. Our company does not donate to presidential candidates,” reads the tweet.

Olive Garden also said in a tweet its parent company, Darden Restaurants, does not donate to “any federal or presidential candidates.”

OpenSecrets.org, a campaign finance database operated by the Center for Responsive Politics, shows that Darden Restaurants has not donated to Trump’s re-election campaign. In fact, it hasn’t made any donations through its PAC or otherwise this election cycle, according to the database.

Corporations are prohibited from donating to candidates and party committees, according to the Federal Election Commission. OpenSecrets.org has a similar disclaimer on its profile page for Darden Restaurants. Corporations can, however, make contributions through company-affiliated PACs, but OpenSecrets.org shows all donations associated with Darden Restaurants came from individuals.

Darden Restaurants owners, employees or their immediate family members – not the company itself – have contributed a total of $17,332 so far during the 2020 election cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org. Of that figure, $11,899 went to candidates (all Democrats), $5,000 went to a Democratic leadership PAC and $433 went to party committees.

Candidates that received donations include South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Peter Buttigieg and Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Trump has not received any campaign contributions from Darden Restaurants-affiliated individuals so far, according to the database.

Other media outlets and fact-checkers have previously debunked this claim.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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