In-N-Out Burger's $25,000 donation to California GOP brings call for boycott from Democrats

Key Points
  • In-N-Out Burgers, the popular fast-food chain, has found itself the target of a boycott after donating $25,000 to the California GOP to boost party coffers ahead of the November election.
  • California Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman made the call for a boycott of the burger chain in a tweet late Wednesday.
  • However, the burger chain defended its GOP donation and said it has "made equal contributions to both Democratic and Republican Political Action Committees in the state of California."
In-N-Out Burger in San Francisco
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

California Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman is calling for a boycott of In-N-Out Burger after the fast-food chain donated $25,000 to the California GOP to boost party coffers ahead of the November election.

Bauman called for the boycott of the popular California-based chain via his Twitter account late Wednesday with the following: "Et tu In-N-Out? Tens of thousands of dollars donated to the California Republican Party... it's time to #BoycottInNOut - let Trump and his cronies support these creeps... perhaps animal style!"


According to a public filing dated Aug. 28, In-N-Out Burger made a contribution for $25,000 to the California Republican Party on Monday. The document on the California secretary of state's website also lists the GOP's "late contribution" as going toward the Nov. 6 election.

This isn't the first time the privately owned burger chain has donated to the California GOP. Public records show the chain donated $30,000 in August 2017 and another $30,000 in May 2016.

However, In-N-Out Burger also donated extensively to a moderate Democratic PAC known as "Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy." The pro-business PAC received $50,000 in contributions in May 2018 and $30,000 in both 2016 and 2017.

CNBC reached out to the California Democratic Party and Bauman for comment.

In a statement, In-N-Out Burger Executive Vice President Arnie Wensinger said the company "made equal contributions to both Democratic and Republican Political Action Committees in the state of California. For years, In-N-Out Burger has supported lawmakers who, regardless of political affiliation, promote policies that strengthen California and allow us to continue operating with the values of providing strong pay and great benefits for our Associates."

Wensinger added, "We have been fortunate to do business in this great state for almost 70 years. While it is unfortunate that our contributions to support both political parties in California has caused concern with some groups, we believe that bipartisan support is a fair and consistent approach that best serves the interests of our company and all of our customers."

In-N-Out operates more than 330 restaurants in six states, but most of the locations are in California. The chain, known for its "Double-Double" hamburgers and "animal style" burgers and fries, was founded in 1948 in Southern California and is majority owned by billionaire Lynsi Snyder.

Some social media users were unhappy to hear about the recent GOP donation and agreed with the call for a boycott. The hashtag #BoycottInNOut was trending Thursday on Twitter after Bauman used it in his tweet.

One user, @KatrinaHagen2, said the burger chain's food has been "a staple" of their kids and friends but added that the boycott was "a no brainer."

"They've lost me as a customer," said user @makingtheater. "Pity, but I will find my animal style somewhere better."

@PatClearySoCal tweeted: "Guess I ate my last InNOut burger last week. I will write them to let them know about my decision. Maybe we all should."

Then again, the boycott inspired others to have lunch at the burger chain.


Another user, @ramincol, called the boycott "stupid" and asked whether "we have gone just crazy with boycotts. If a business wants to support either party why does it matter?"

California GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox also weighed in on the controversy by making a point to have lunch at one of the restaurants. Cox also took a jab at his challenger, Gavin Newsom — a Democrat and the state's current lieutenant governor.