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Juul Insiders Throw Cash Behind a Surprising Democratic Presidential Candidate

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:16 PM
Mark Emem
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:16 PM
  • Kamala Harris received nearly twice as much in campaign donations from Juul insiders than any other Democratic presidential candidate.
  • In fact, she’s received more Juul cash than every other candidate combined.
  • Why are Juul insiders supporting her rather than more popular candidates like Joe Biden?

While likely Democratic presidential primary voters rally around Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, insiders at embattled vaping firm Juul Labs have thrown their financial support behind a far less popular candidate: Kamala Harris.

In the 2020 election cycle, Harris – the junior US senator from California – has received $12,360 from the vaping firm’s insiders , the highest amount of any presidential candidate. Juul, which is estimated to have a 70% market share of the US e-cigarette market, is based in San Francisco.

Juul Labs 2020 presidential campaign donations
Despite polling around 5%, Kamala Harris has received more campaign donations from Juul (which is based in her home state of California) than every other Democratic presidential candidate combined. | Data: OpenSecrets.org 

What has Kamala Harris said about Juul?

While the US 2020 presidential candidate has not voiced any strong criticism of Juul, she has not been totally silent either.

kamala harris, juul donations
Juul’s favorite Democratic presidential candidate is Kamala Harris, at least when it comes to insider campaign donations. | Source: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Last month, Harris joined nine other US senators in accusing Juul of “addicting a new generation of young Americans to nicotine.” This was in a letter that called on Juul  to eliminate anti-consumer policies and provisions that help the company evade civil liability.

However, Harris was conspicuously missing from a Democratic-led effort in April meant to investigate Juul’s marketing tactics for evidence of targeting minors .

The probe also targeted the owner of Big Tobacco firm Philip Morris USA, Altria, which last year acquired a 35% interest in Juul.

What about frontrunners Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren?

Kamala Harris isn’t the only Democrat running for the US presidency who has received money from Juul employees and insiders.

Pete Buttigieg, who has polled slightly ahead of Harris in most recent national surveys , was the next big recipient of donations from Juul Labs. The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, received $6,650, a little over half of what Harris got.

joe biden
Joe Biden has received less than $3,000 from Juul-related individuals. | Source: AFP PHOTO/Peter PARKS

Notably, Juul insiders have distributed very little cash to the current frontrunners. Joe Biden’s campaign reported $2,950 in donations, Elizabeth Warren got $1,270, and Bernie Sanders received $290.

The disclosure of political donations made by Juul insiders comes at a time when the vaping firm is currently trying to rehabilitate itself as a responsible company following a spate of vaping-related deaths across the U.S.

Spending cuts as a tough future looms for embattled vaping firm

Earlier this week, Juul announced it was cutting 650 jobs , about 16% of its 4,000-strong employee base. This is in an attempt to slash close to $1 billion in spending next year as the vaping firm takes hits from all sides.

Just last week, the vaping firm announced it would be stopping the sales of its mint-flavored nicotine pods. With the mint flavor being far and away the company’s most popular product , the move could trigger a severe revenue drop.

Regulatory action could further slam the brakes on the company’s growth as the vaping crisis gets worse. According to Business Insider, there were 39 deaths and over 2,000 cases of vaping-related lung illness  incidents all over the U.S. as of last week. Already, the Trump White House has floated the idea of a vaping ban.R