Cracker Barrel has doled out roughly half a million dollars in political contributions in the past decade, but a $25,000 donation two years ago has landed the restaurant chain in trouble with the law in Texas.
The Lebanon-based company was one of eight corporations indicted Tuesday by a grand jury on charges of illegal financial activity. The indictment cites a $25,000 contribution in September 2002 from Cracker Barrel to Texans for a Republican Majority, a political action committee with ties to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.
Cracker Barrel also has contributed $5,000 to DeLay's political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, which helped create the Texas committee.
The indictment alleges that Cracker Barrel was part of a scheme to funnel corporate money to political candidates in violation of Texas campaign law. Three of DeLay's closest aides also were indicted on charges of money laundering and accepting unlawful corporate donations. DeLay was not charged.
Cracker Barrel's political action committee, Citizens for Political Accountability, has been a major corporate backer of GOP politics at the state and national level. Since 1992, it has given $313,250 to Republican candidates compared with $14,250 to Democrats, according to an analysis of campaign finance records by PoliticalMoneyLine, the online arm of FECInfo, which tracks political financial activity.
The restaurant company also shelled out nearly $200,000 in soft-money donations before the large unregulated corporate contributions were outlawed in 2002. That total included more than $69,000 to the Republican National State Elections Committee, which allegedly steered $190,000 in corporate contributions to seven Texas House candidates in 2002.
In addition, Dan Evins, chairman of Cracker Barrel's parent company, has given $131,950 to Republican candidates and political committees, records show.
Here's a handy map of over 500 Cracker Barrel locations you can boycott.