Trump wades in on flap over L.L. Bean boycott threats

By By Scott Malone Features Reuters

Donald Trump Jr. (L) and Vice President-elect Mike Pence are seen in the background as U.S. President-elect Donald Trump gives a press conference in Trump Tower, Manhattan, New York, U.S., January 11, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (Copyright Reuters 2017)

Donald Trump on Thursday tweeted his support of Maine catalog retailer L.L. Bean after an activist group opposed to the U.S. president-elect called for a boycott of the company.

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The boycott call began online last week after reports that a member of the Bean family that owns the company, best known for its rubber-bottomed hunting boots, had donated money to Trump's candidacy.

"Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L. Bean for your great support and courage," Trump said in a tweet early on Thursday. "People will support you even more now. Buy L.L. Bean."

The "Grab Your Wallet" website added L.L. Bean, based in Freeport, Maine, to a lengthy list of retailers it is urging Trump opponents to boycott because of their ties Trump, who will be sworn in on Jan. 20.

L.L. Bean scrambled to distance itself from Linda Bean's donations, noting that she was one of more than 50 members of the founding family associated with the 105-year-old company, which described itself as politically neutral.

"Our owners, employees, and customers hold views and embrace causes that are individual and diverse," the company said in a statement late on Sunday. "We fully acknowledge and respect that some may disagree with the political views of a single member of our 10-person board of directors."

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A spokeswoman for the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Trump's tweet drew responses from supporters and opponents on Thursday, some of whom vowed to boycott the company, others who said they planned to buy its merchandise.

Trump has taken on several prominent U.S. companies, including United Technologies Corp's Carrier air conditioning unit and General Motors Co for manufacturing products outside the United States.

His track record of pouncing on high-profile executives has left the leaders of corporate America wary of waking up one morning to find themselves Trump's latest target.

Maine is politically divided. It has a split Congressional delegation and a two-term Republican governor, but former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton carried the state in the Nov. 8 election.

On Thursday, Governor Paul LePage, a vocal supporter of Trump, praised Linda Bean.

"It is reprehensible how progressives have bullied her and her family's company," LePage said. "I encourage Mainers and customers around the globe to continue their strong support of L.L. Bean."

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)