Food Giants Request Public Disclaimer from California GOP Organization
Food giant KFC its owner Yum Brands and mega conglomerate Kraft Brands Monday denounced a newsletter by an Inland Empire GOP women’s club depicting Sen. Barack Obama on a phony food stamp with a bucket of KFC chicken, a slab of ribs, a pitcher of Kool-Aid and a slice of watermelon.
In exclusive written statements to the Black Voice News, KFC and Kraft Foods which owns Kool-Aid demanded that the Chaffey Community Republican Women Federation responsible for distributing the degrading material immediately cease and desist from further use or distribution of materials containing KFC and Kool-Aid images.
“We have also requested a public statement from the group acknowledging that KFC had no part in the creation or distribution of this material” said KFC spokesman
“The actions by this group are a disparagement of KFC and the company reserves all rights to protect its trademarks and brand image against uses such as this.”
Kraft Foods has requested immediate removal of the Kool-Aid pitchman image from the organization’s newsletter.
“We do not condone their use of our trademark to promote their agenda and we have requested any public apology the organization makes acknowledges Kraft was unaware of and is strongly opposed to this use,” Kraft spokesman Bridget A. MacConnell
said in a written statement.
The swift action by KFC and Kraft comes in the wake of international fall-out over the disparaging illustration.
The GOP newsletter Trumpeter, which was sent to about 200 members and associates of the group, has drawn worldwide condemnation from the Republican Party, members of the Inland political group, elected officials, Democrats and others as racist.
Under intense pressure the group’s president Diane Fedele has agreed to resign and says she plans to send a letter of apology to her members and to make a public apology at the club’s meeting this week. Fedele did not respond to an interview request Monday morning seeking reaction to the latest developments.
She accepted responsibility for the October publication, which she created. The illustration was something she said she downloaded from a chain of e-mails and decided to re-print it. She said she wanted to deride a comment Obama made over the summer about how as an African American he “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.”
Fedele told The Press Enterprise which first aired the story on its website she does not associate the those food items with stereotypes about African-Americans.
“It was just food. It didn’t mean anything else. It was strictly an attempt to point out the outrageousness of his statement.”
She said she also wasn’t trying to make a statement linking Obama and food stamps, although her introductory text to the illustration makes a clear association between Obama and food stamps.
Shelia Raines, an African American member of the club, was the first person to complain to Fedele several days after no one in the organization took offense to the illustration.
“I was appalled. I had to take a stand,” explained Raines. “I had an hour long phone conversation with Fedele (whom I don’t believe is a racist). She didn’t get it. She has yet to apologize to me. She failed to see the implication of her actions, the unbelievable hurt she has caused, Sen. Obama, African-Americans and others.”
Raines of San Bernardino, said she is disappointed that for several days no one in the club raised objection to the depiction. In a BVN interview Friday Raines said she cried after reading the newsletter and feels an incredible sense of betrayal and sadness.
“I haven’t slept for days and will probably seek medical attention.”
She acknowledged that this is not the first incident involving Fedele that raised a question of objectionable behavior. “Usually I’d let it run off my shoulder. This time she went too far.”
She said while many Republican Party officials have taken swift action to condemn the material, still others have admonished her for ‘going to the media’.
“Some members felt that the matter should have been handled internally.” She said she has worked tirelessly to bring other minorities under the Republican tent and now feels betrayed.
Political and news Web sites around the world last week linked to The Press Enterprise’s online story about the controversy, which sparked widespread debate, blog comments,
phone calls and thousands of e-mails.
The depiction prompted condemnation from Acquanetta Warren, a Fontana council member and another African-American member of the organization, which is known in the Inland community for its philanthropy and voter registration efforts.
“This is wrong. This does not reflect our principles and values,” said Warren who has received more than 1200 e-mails causing her computer account to crash. Warren who is regional vice chairwomen for the California Republican Party and served as a Republican delegate to the national convention in September said the illustration tarnishes the good work of the organization.
“Most of these ladies are volunteers who put country first. They really care and are not racist.”
California Republican Party chairman Ron Nehring denounced the newsletter in a written statement Thursday and again during an address to Federation members Saturday.
“Any material that invokes issues, related to race is absolutely unacceptable.”
Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga and Assemblyman Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands both up for reelection, condemned the newsletter after the controversial illustration was circulated around the Internet.
Nehring also denounced material posted on the Sacramento County Republican Party website. The Sacramento Bee printed an image it said was captured from the site that depicted Obama in a turban next to Osama bin Laden. It said: “The difference between Osama and Obama is just a little B.S.” The site also encouraged members to “Waterboard Barack Obama,” a reference to a torture technique. The Sacramento County party removed the material Tuesday and fired its web administrator responsible for site content.
The Obama campaign declined to comment. It’s the campaign’s policy to not address such attacks, said Gabriel Sanchez, a California spokesman for the campaign.