(Note: This story has been updated after the shareholders meeting).
An organization that confronts left-leaning corporate executives in front of stockholders was set to take on Big Espresso today.
Justin Danhof of the National Center for Public Policy Research admits that many corporations have gotten political but Starbucks, he says, is at the top of the list for many reasons.
"For different corporations there's different reasons why," he says, "but with Starbucks there's a very clear reason why, and that is because of the liberal leanings of CEO Howard Schultz."
Schultz, 63, who helped build the company into a $4-cup-of-coffee giant, has announced he's stepping down in April as CEO and will serve as executive chairman.
Once thought to be a Democratic presidential candidate, or running mate for Hillary Clinton, rumors have been floating that Schultz may run for the White House in 2020.
Danhof recalls that Schultz was stunned and saddened by Clinton's loss to Donald Trump, sending an email to employees that "we'll get through it."
"With many thousands of employees," Danhof comments, "many employees probably voted for Donald Trump. And so to have a publicly-traded CEO with only one mindset, and very close-minded, is really not great for employee morale."
Schultz has also announced plans to hire 10,000 refugees in response to President Trump's initial travel ban.
Former president Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton banned refugees for six months in 2011, and little if anything was said by companies, including Starbucks.
"The hypocrisy of that is something worth pointing out as well," Danhof says. "And believe me, I will."
Schultz made headlines in 2013 when a shareholder who supports traditional marriage confronted him over the issue, since Schultz has said Starbucks supports homosexual "marriage."
Danhof wants to know what the company will do after Schultz steps down in April – continue its "leftward march" or become more inviting to other customers who don't share its left-wing beliefs.
A left-winger reacts to 'political rhetoric'
At the shareholders meeting, Danhof asked Schultz about the cost of vetting refugees and about Starbucks' lack of opposition for a temporary travel ban during the Obama administration.
"Schultz avoided the answers to both questions," says Danhof. "First, he claims that somehow it will cost the company zero dollars to vet anybody, but of course it's going to cost something. And the second thing is that he told me in his response that I was inputting political rhetoric into the issue where he wasn't."
Danhof finds that "shocking," but says it tells him a few things.
"If Howard Schultz was so proud of what they had announced by claiming that they're going to hire 10,000 refugees in response to President Trump's executive order," says Danhof, "he would have had some sort of defense for what they were doing, and some sort of answer for my question."
But the outgoing CEO had no answer, Danhof adds, even though he is the one who has injected politics into Starbucks as he led the company.