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