Who Spent the Most on Pro-Impeachment Ads? A Spice Company
Ever since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unilaterally declared an impeachment inquiry, impeachment has been a hot topic politically. President Donald Trump's campaign spent $718,000 on ads opposing impeachment between September 29 and October 5, outspending everyone else. The biggest spender supporting impeachment wasn't a political campaign or a Democratic organization: It was a spice company!
According to an Axios analysis of Facebook ad purchases on the topic, Penzeys Spices dropped $92,000 on pro-impeachment ads, edging out 2020 Democrat Tom Steyer's $86,000. Civiqs, a polling firm founded by the founder of the liberal outlet Daily Kos, spent $29,000. Penzeys far outspent Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), now the Democratic frontrunner, whose campaign spent $20,000 on impeachment ads.
Penzeys founder Bill Penzey told Fox Business the ads advocating impeaching Trump have "worked better" than any previous ads the spice company has run.
Penzey has long used his platform with the Wisconsin-based spice company to push his political agenda, according to a New Yorker profile published last year. When the company began as a mail-order business in the 1980s, the brand's catalogs served an extension of his own opinions. Trump's election proved a key turning point for the company, however.
In November 2016, Penzey used the company's newsletter to oppose Trump. "The open embrace of racism by the Republican Party in this election is now unleashing a wave of ugliness unseen in this country for decades," he wrote.
Penzyes Spices has spent more than $2 million since May 2018 on Facebook ads related to social issues, elections, or politics. According to Vox, the spice company spent $109,933 promoting 30 different versions of a pro-impeachment post that Penzey wrote.
"The reality is the Republican Party has turned its back on conservative values and has instead come to embrace the 'textbook' racism of white nationalism," the far-left businessman wrote in the promoted Facebook post. "For the world’s greatest military power to embrace nationalism is scary-dangerous. I’ve always seen our mission as promoting and protecting the kindness found at the heart of cooking. It’s cost us, but I don’t see any way of us being us without standing up to the cruelty the Republican Party is now promoting. The spice business, at its best, can be a gateway to the world of beauty that diversity has created all around us. I want us to be the spice business at its best."
The post goes on to call Trump's Ukraine scandal "the big one" that will end his presidency, and urges readers to "hug a whistleblower."
While Penzeys has certainly alienated conservatives with its liberal rhetoric, the spice company's online sales rose nearly 60 percent within two weeks after the post-2016 election newsletter.
Penzey recently trademarked the slogan "Season Liberally."
The spice company supported impeachment back in 2017, marketing a spice called "Pico Fruta Impeachment."
While I find this pro-impeachment campaign obnoxious, I heartily support Penzeys Spices' free speech rights to advocate for political causes like this. It seems this spice company considers this a marketing strategy as well as an expression of free speech, and Penzey has this right, just as conservatives have the right to refuse to shop there. Ironically, the same liberals who would deny religious professionals like Jack Phillips the religious freedom to refuse to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding would gladly support Penzey's "Season Liberally" strategy.
Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.