New Balance and Romney

The shoe company's CEO splits with the chairman over donations made to the GOP presidential candidate

New Balance‘s Rob DeMartini did something few CEOs would dream of doing – he parted company with the shoe maker’s chairman Jim Davis over donations he made to the Mitt Romney for President campaign.

Rob DeMartini (courtesy of New Balance)

As of yesterday, DeMartini issued a statement to customers, partners and other New Balance employees after it was revealed that Davis donated upwards of $500,000 to Romney, who recently signed a pledge against same-sex marriage and that calls gay men a national health risk. also got wind of the support from the New Balance honcho and posted its own petition asking that the company “Stop Supporting Anti-Gay Politicians.” As of press time, almost 3,000 people signed the petition calling for change.

But DeMartini has had to go on the defensive, reiterating that the donation was a personal one and not endorsed by New Balance.

Here’s what he had to say:

Dear New Balance associates, customers and consumers:

Earlier this year, a private donation was made by our Chairman to a political action committee that is affiliated with Mitt Romney. First, let me be clear that this was a private donation and not a contribution from New Balance. We encourage civic engagement at all levels and will always respect the right of any of our associates to engage in the political process as they see fit. We typically do not comment on private political donations; however, this situation is different.

Mr. Romney recently signed a pledge that challenges same sex marriage and that has offended many including those in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Mr. Romney’s position on this issue is not reflective of Jim Davis’, my or New Balance’s position and support of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered community. As a company, New Balance embraces the differences in all people and we work tirelessly to create and sustain an environment where everyone – our associates, consumers, customers and guests – are treated with dignity and respect.


Rob DeMartini