Discovery of Anna’s House political donations upsets Facebook, Reddit users

Posted at 5:51 PM, Aug 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-08 22:15:47-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The reputation of a local restaurant chain is getting political after public records of its donations to President Donald Trump surfaced on Reddit.

Anna’s House has eight locations across the state with signs advertising “Voted #1 Best Breakfast in Michigan” but now, hundreds of Facebook and Reddit users are posting they will no longer be eating at Anna’s House after seeing a Federal Election Commission filing detailing its political contributions.

According to the FEC, Anna’s House Corporate, LLC has made two $2,800 donations to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. One contribution is for the primary election, the other is for the general election. Anna’s House is also listed as giving $15,000 to Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee. All three contributions are dated on April 2, 2019.

Republican politicians aren’t the only ones benefiting from Michigan businesses. Title Check, LLC contributed $1,000 to Sen. Gary Peters, D-MI, campaign on June 15, 2019.

Some corporations donate to both major parties, like DTE Energy, which has given money to Peters and Rep. Fred Upton, R-Kalamazoo.

Blue Cross and Ford also join DTE Energy on the list of top political donors in Michigan, according to non-profit Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

While politicians have been benefiting from corporate contributions for years, Calvin University professor Doug Koopman said the way people respond to it is new.

“It’s interesting because the information has been out there, really, literally for decades but I think we’re in this wave of trying to expose this information so that, either to embarrass to express pride in who you contribute to,” Koopman said.

Doug Chu, 30, saw a screenshot of Anna’s House partial FEC record on Wednesday and shared it to his personal Facebook page. It’s since been shared hundreds of times, mostly by people upset to learn about the restaurant chain’s support of the president.

“My political beliefs, at their core, come from being a Christian,” Chu said. “More specifically, from studying the Bible and and paying attention to the kind of society God wants people to live in, as well as from working to apprentice myself to Jesus’ teachings on how to treat other people.”

Chu hasn’t made a donation to a political campaign.

Koopman said while it’s unusual for businesses to donate the maximum contribution limit to one candidate so early in the race, it’s perfectly legal.

Thursday night, Anna’s House owner Josh Beckett released a statement on the matter.

“I am proud to live in a country where we are free to have different opinions and to support a candidate of our choice. At Anna’s House, we employ and serve people of all backgrounds and beliefs, without judgement. Our goal is to treat everyone like family – and in families, there are often differences of opinion. Embracing these differences and respecting each other despite them is what makes our country great. If you are looking for an open, supportive, and accepting place to enjoy a great meal and conversation, Anna’s House is here for you.” 

Kent County Republican Party Chair Joel Freeman issued the following statement to FOX 17:

“Treating people with different political viewpoints as enemies to be eliminated is toxic and counterproductive.  Anna’s House is a popular locally-owned business that has found success serving delicious breakfasts that everyone can enjoy.  It’s too bad that some would prefer division and strife over breaking bread, but that just means there’s more waffles for the rest of us.”

Among the list of millions of political donations on the FEC’s website, it can be difficult to completely avoid people and businesses that clash with a individual’s political views. Still, Chu said learning about Anna’s House’s political contributions will help him be more aware of how he spends his own money.