Books exposing Coors:
- Citizen Coors: An American Dynasty by Dan Baum (2000; 367 pgs; published by William Morrow & Company, Inc.) [read excerpt]
- Citizen Coors : a Grand Family Saga of Business, Politics, and Beer by Dan Baum (1991; 400 pgs; published by Perennial [HarperCollins])
- The Coors Connection — How Coors Family Philanthropy Undermines Democratic Pluralism by Russ Bellant (1991; 154 pgs; well-documented with 287 footnotes; published by South End Press
Confused about Coors official’s claims that the company no longer funds anti-labor, anti-environmental and other right wing groups? Read the following section on how Coors now funnels money through their Castle Rock Foundation…
Coors vs. the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual community
- Boycott Coors Committee
- Coors funding of anti-lesbian and gay groups and their relationship with the Castle Rock Foundation
- Coors Courts Queers — But Critics Say, “Don’t Feed the Hand that Bites You”
- Coors Controversy Boils Statewide
- Coors and the Homophobes: The Adventure Continues — Critics Call New Foundation “Smoke and Mirrors”
- Silver Bullets And Gold Coins
- West Hollywood Commends “Gay-Friendly” Coors — Activists Call Action “Unconscionable”
Coors vs. the Environment:
- Coors Cyber Campaign (to Save The Mesas in Golden, CO)
- Cancer in Colorado article by the Boulder Weekly
- Coors is also a supporter of corporate secrecy laws called Audit Priviledge:This was part of a much larger message about “Audit Privilege”, a new corporate tactic that, if it becomes law in a state, allows a corporation to keep major information about their environmental violations a corporate secret. Apparently, Coors is a major proponent of these corporate secrecy laws….In practice: Under the Colorado law, golden aluminum, a company formerly owned by Coors brewing company (the colo audit law’s biggest corporate backer), disclosed that it was discharging nine times more volatile organic chemicals than allowed under its state air pollution permit under the law it is entitled to legal immunity having made this disclosure and launched a corrective program. What about the impact on competitors who for years have spent more money to comply fully with the law? Well, apparently golden aluminum can write off those savings… thanks to the audit law!
These fact sheets are a bit out of date, but still very relevant to the corporation’s background:
This first item is from the Pledge of Resistance, a group that was focusing on issues in Central America at the time. It’s a bit dated, but it makes a good intro to the boycott.
DON’T BUY COORS
1. COORS SUPPORTS TERRORISM IN NICARAGUA
Each sale of Coors beer helps the contra terrorists in Nicaragua, who have been ambushing and killing civilians, murdering teachers and medical workers, and destroying rural schools and medical centers. The contras, a band of mercenaries established by the CIA, are attempting to overthrow the elected government of Nicaragua. Joseph Coors has contributed to and helped to raise millions of dollars for the contras. (Washington Post, May 3, 1985). The Heritage Foundation, funded and established by Coors, provided a report in 1984 to the Reagan Administration on how to destabilize Nicaragua.
2. COORS IS ANTI-LABOR
Coors has a long history of violating federal labor laws and union-busting – breaking 19 unions in the last 20 years. Coors has blocked the efforts of federal safety inspectors to investigate workplace hazards, which have led to the death of Coors employees (San Francisco Examiner, July 5, 1984).
3. COORS IS RACIST, ANTI-WOMEN’S RIGHTS, AND ANTI-GAY
William E. Coors fought against passage of the U.S. Civil Rights Act, and in 1984 told an audience of black businessmen that blacks don’t succeed because they “lack intellectual capacity”. (Rocky Mountain News, February 24, 1984). The Coors Company, cited for unlawful employment discrimination in 1970, settled out of court IN 1977 and paid thousands of dollars in back pay and rehired minority and female workers. Joseph Coors supported the campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment and is a major contributor to the Moral Majority, which has called for the imprisonment of gay persons diagnosed as having AIDS.
4. COORS SUPPORTS NAZI SYMPATHIZERS
When Joseph Coors established the Heritage Foundation in 1974, he chose Roger Pearson, an outspoken anti-semite and pro-nazi, as co- editor of the Heritage Foundation publication Policy Review. Pearson is the author of a book on Aryan supremacy called “Race and Civilization”, and has been the editor or co-editor of several racist and neo-nazi magazines. (National Guardian, May 1, 1985). The Heritage Foundation is a right-wing think tank which seeks to abolish civil rights laws, minimum wage laws, affirmative action, rights for the handicapped, and arms control.
5. COORS POLLUTES
In contrast to the advertised association of Coors beer with “pure mountain spring water”, Coors is one of the largest dumpers of hazardous waste in Colorado. (National Catholic Reporter, March 25,1983).
THE NATIONWIDE COORS BOYCOTT has been extremely effective. Begun in 1977 by brewery workers at the Coors plant in Colorado, the boycott has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO, the NEA (National Education Association) and NOW (National Organization for Women). As a result, Coors has steadily lost sales every year since 1977. Coors is now looking for sales in eastern markets (such as Boston) but here too the boycott has affected sales. At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and at Brandeis University, for example, sales of Coors beer were recently halted.DON’T DRINK COORS
We urge you not to buy Coors products (Coors Beer, Killian’s Irish Red Ale, Masters Beer). Tell your friends about the boycott, and encourage the liquor stores you frequent to stop selling Coors products.
(This leaflet is published by the Pledge of Resistance, whose objective is to stop U.S. intervention in Central America – both by the U.S. government and by private sources, such as Coors.)
This item is from a Student Environmental Action Coalition chapter in Colorado.
Coors vs. the Earth
“Waste the High Country”
-Coors was cited twice in 1990 for water pollution, once in 1986 and once in 1985 (Pat Nelson, Co. Dept of Health)
-In 1981, Coors first identified the groundwater pollution, but did not notify the Co. Dept. of Health or EPA (Rocky Mountain News, 8/31/90
-Current State’s Attorney criminal investigation of Coors for suspicion that plant officials knowingly concealed leaking pipes at the company’s can plant that tainted at least 2 and as many as 5 underground springs with toxic chemical solvents contributing to irregular heartbeat, unconsciousness, pulmonary edema, and death (Rocky Mountain News (R.M.N.), 8/31/90)
-This civil investigation has broadened with State officials citing Coors with illegally dumping contaminated wastewater into Clear Creek tributaries (R.M.N. 8/31/90)
-Contaminated water destined for Clear Creek was later rerouted into Coors infective General Waste Treatment Plant which does not remove certain types of Cancer causing chemicals (ibid)
-The water pollutants from the Coors plant are contributing to higher-than- usual incidence of low birthweights and early childhood cancer in areas which receive water from Clear Creek. (National Toxics Campaign, 9/27/90)
-Coors has been singled out as a large contributor to Denver’s brown cloud. (EPA 1989)
-Coors has dumped 20,000,000 (yes, that’s 20 million, not a typo!!) gallons of toxic liquid waste at the Lowry Landfill (EPA 1989)
-Coors holds a contract to provide high-technology ceramic materials for heat-seeking Stinger missiles. (Denver Post, 12/29/88)
-Coors Ceramics Co. secretly manufactured fuel elements for nuclear reactors in Golden Colorado, and stored liquid radioactive waste at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant. (Company Executive, 2/27/90)
Coors and Human Rights Fact Sheet
-1966, Joe Coors was installed as a regent of the University of Colorado. He became known for his advocacy of repressing campus dissent. Coors also sought to abolish Chicano and Black studies programs at the University, and to curtail the admissions of low-income students, because he believed such students would lower academic standards.
-The Heritage Foundation is often characterized as a “conservative think tank”, with origins in New Right activism… The “founder” beer magnate Joe Coors, donated the first-year Heritage budget of $250,000 from the coffers of the Coors Corporation.
-1974, Heritage injected itself into a textbook censorship case in Kanawha County, West Virginia… The protest was publicly framed as a parent’s rights case, but in fact was focused substantially on African-American authors or texts that dealt with the conditions and culture of African- Americans. The Ku Klux Klan was involved in the protest from the start.
-1984, In a speech to a minority business group in Denver, William Coors told the group that if they thought it was “unfair” that their “ancestors were dragged here in chains against their will… I would urge those of you who feel that way to go back to where your ancestors come from, and you will find out that probably the greatest favor that anybody ever did you, was to drag your ancestors over here in chains, and I mean it.”
-Later in the same speech Coors said, “… they (Blacks) lack the intellectual capacity to succeed.”
-Joe Coors was actively anti-feminist, and a financial supporter of Phyllis Schlafly’s organization opposed to the Equal Rights Amendment, STOP- ERA.
-It is true that the Coors family, foundation and corporation, through grants and advertising have expanded their funding in recent years to include groups who historically have not been allies, such as feminist, lesbian and gay, African-American, and Chicano organizations. This shift, however, reflects the families pragmatic business sense rather than any change in overall political orientation. Significant funding continues to flow toward rightest groups. The Coors Corporation’s public image has been substantially improved through a relatively small investment of time and money.
Sources available upon request
Student Coalition for Human Rights. 492-5449
Coors VS. the Earth II
-Permitted KKK meetings and cross-burning ceremonies on the brewery property.
-Reputation as a racist due to his comments regarding ethnic groups.
-Paid employees to attend a mandatory meeting where he “urged employees of the Adolph Coors Company to write their congressman opposing the Civil Rights Act.
-Delivered the “slave trader speech of 1984 in which he told minority businessmen in Denver that one of the best things slave-drivers did to American blacks “is to drag your ancestors over here in chains” because blacks in America have greater opportunity than those in Africa.
-Admits the Coors Company move to recycling was prompted by economics.
-Gave money (with brother Joe) to the anti-union National Right to Work Committee
-Past U. of Colorado Regent
-Requested that Students for a Democratic Society be banned from the CU campus (request denied)
-Criticized while on the Board of Regents for passing John Birch Society literature to other regents.
-Labelled “one of the country’s leading anti-environmentalists” by the conservative Reader’s Digest, 1983)
-Well-known for his desire to minimize government interference in his Corporate interests.
-Belongs (with brother Bill) to the Bohemian Grove, an elite club to which Ronald Reagan and other “ruling class” members belong
-Testified that he had given $65,000 to Oliver North which was used to buy a plane for the Contras.
-Helped found the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, effectively training over 7000 workers for the Moral Majority, Phyllis Schlafly’s STOP-ERA, the Eagle Forum, right-to-life campaigns and anti-union groups.
The Investments and Involvements
-Fall of 1975, faced a complaint of race and sex discrimination by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
-Twice found guilty of discrimination against black employees by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission
-Coors Foundation has donated money to the following anti-Earth organizations:
- Pacific Legal Foundation/ Limited Government Project Coalition
(works to fight bureaucratic intrusion particularly regarding environmental regulations)
- Mountain States Legal Foundation
(fights against the EPA, Sierra Club, EDF, Dept. of the Interior on environmental legislation, emission standards, dumping limits, etc. Joe Coors has served on the MSLF’s board of directors)
- Effectively supported the campaigns of James Watt (Sec. of the Interior) Ann Gorsuch (Dir. of the EPA) and Robert Burford (Dir. of the Bureau of Land Management). Thought of as the biggest destroyers of the environment and the movement organized to protect it.
- Funded the John Birch Society
- Funded the King Ministry
(dedicated to “saving homosexuals from their ‘sinful lifestyles’”)
- Funded the Concerned Citizens
(a California group pressing for reinstatement of criminal penalties for homosexuals)
-Opened a ceramics plant in Brazil to take advantage of the rapid growth of the Brazilian paper and pulp industry. This endeavor relies on the exploitation of tropical rain forests.
-Operates Coors Energy while drills for natural gas in Easter and Western Colorado to be used by the Coors company alone.
-Bulldozed into a BLM Wilderness Study Area outside of Grand Junction for oil and gas exploration by the Coors subsidiary (Sept. 1982)
-Has effectively fought against Gov. Roy Romer’s suggestion that the enormous coal-burning operation help “do everything we can to clean up coal.”
-Dumped an estimated 20 million gallons of toxic liquid waste into nearby Lowry Landfill while refusing to disclose the barrel’s contents.
-Holds “apparent favoritism” within the Occupational Safety and Health Administration according to Sen. Edward Kennedy (April, 1984). News reports stated that this “may have contributed” to the deaths of two brewery workers in 1982.
-Coors is not at the forefront of the recycling battle, as their propaganda would suggest. Rather, Coors lobbied heavily against mandatory deposit legislation and effectively defeated a Colorado state “bottle bill” which would have ensured more recycling of glass and would have prompted the recycling of aluminum and other valuable resources.
In their effort to get wide-spread media attention by supporting national events and placing their name on large buildings on public university property, we must say NO TO COORS! Our university is not the place for a private self-interest such as Coors to seek publicity and to further their insane social and political practices. Dave Sickler, the coordinator of the 10 year AFL-CIO Coors boycott, said “If you can get two cockroaches to race, Coors will show up with t-shirts and sponsor it.”
complete source list available press contact: Eric J. Kessler (303) 492-8308
=o= A word about that “10 year AFL-CIO Coors boycott:” At that writing the Coors boycott was about 10 years old, but the AFL-CIO had not been in on it for 10 years. What happened is that the boycott was started by a coalition of human rights and environmental groups and the AFL-CIO joined the coalition.
=o= Unfortunately the AFL-CIO sold out the coalition as soon as they got what they wanted. You may have heard press reports that the Coors boycott had ended — these reports were issued unilaterally by the AFL-CIO. Groups working for human rights and for the environment continue the boycott, and some labor groups continue the boycott as well.
=o= This final piece is the most recent thing I’ve seen written about Coors.
Still Backing the Hard Right: Coors Money Undermines Democracy
By Russ Bellant & Chip Berlet Insight Features
While the past involvement of the Coors family in conservative causes is well-established, most people are unaware that the family’s rightist goals are still in place and that their political influence remains strong. Although the survival and growth of the corporation has required some financial concessions and a shift in public image, the Coors family empire still represents a threat to peace, social justice, pluralism and democracy. Coors family funding continues to flow toward rightist groups, and the family’s political involvement plays a crucial role in the establishment and maintenance of key organizations defining the political dialogue for both the New Right and the Religious Right. Ironically, the family derives the bulk of its wealth from working-class and middle-class people who purchase Coors beer products. The Coors family, through its political operations, then uses its share of the profits from beer sales to perpetuate and encourage regressive governmental and social policies serving only the narrow interests of a handful of the very wealthy in this country. That they are able to cloud this reality is due to the Coors Corporation’s high-visibility advertising campaign.
“The pattern of Coors family funding and activism stands in stark contrast to the mainstream image projected by the Coors Brewing Company, whose advertising and funding reach out to the African-American, women’s and gay communities,” charges Dr. Jean Hardisty of Political Research Associates in Cambridge, Mass. “In fact, Coors family funding underwrites a broad and effective attack on the democratic rights of people of color, gay men and lesbians, and women.”
Pillars of New Right
The Coors family is highly influential in shaping the activities of three organizational pillars of the New Right — the Heritage Foundation, the Free Congress Foundation (FCF) and the Council for National Policy (CNP) — which comprise an influential force in Washington, DC. Involvement with these key groups provides the Coors family with a conservative political base. From this base, the family is connected to prominent activists in other New Right organizations, to groups on the Religious Right, and to allies in governmental agencies and in Congress. For example, FCF is the major New Right political power base for White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, who engineered the David Souter Supreme Court nomination. In reality, the Coors family is a powerful, wealthy, highly organized force for social change. The change they support with their time and money is a return to Social Darwinian political and economic morality framed by the unrestricted demands of market and capital. They see racism ending with the Civil War and leaving no enduring legacy in the 20th century. In international affairs, they expect Third World countries to embrace U.S. capital investment without restrictions. They give money to groups that support the apartheid government in South Africa, the violent RENAMO army in Mozambique and the Pretoria-supported UNITA forces in Angola.
The Coors family also funds a right-wing sector of Christian fundamentalism, which seeks to replace democratic pluralism with so-called “traditional family values” — that is, an authoritarian, gender-based social order. They support groups that say homosexuals are an abomination and AIDS is God’s judgement on sinners. They have supported Reverend Sun Myung Moon and Christian Reconstructionists, both of whom have called for the abolition of U.S. democracy and the establishment of a theocratic state.
What is surprising is the extent of Coors family involvement with groups that belong properly to neither the New Right nor the Religious Right, but to the fringes of the ultraright. Even more disheartening is the extent to which mainstream political organizations evince a willingness to work with these denizens of the fringe. The Coors far-right links include the following:
- Jeffrey H. Coors sits on the FCF board of directors along with the FCF director Paul Weyrich, an ardent supporter of the neo-fascist Society for the Protection of Tradition, Family and Property; and Charles Moser, an editorial adviser to a publication that praises the Nazi Waffen SS.
- Weyrich, who for years has represented the political interests of the Coors family in Washington, DC, sponsors the work of a convicted Nazi collaborator, Laszlo Pasztor, a Hungarian-american who is employed at FCF.
- The Coors-funded Heritage Foundation co-sponsored a 1989 forum with a pro-Nazi group, the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations.
- Jeff, Holly and Peter Coors were members of the CNP Board of governors in 1988 — along with a former Indiana Ku Klux Klan leader, supporters of the apartheid government of South Africa and ultraright Christian Reconstructionists who call for the execution of homosexuals, adulterers and blasphemers.
There are other powerful New Right funders, but it is the Coors family who time and again appear in leadership roles in New Right institutions, offering a guiding hand along with their signed checks. The family is seen, by critics and compatriots alike, as being in the front rank of conservative U.S. power brokers.
Some observers contend that the Coors empire has moderated politically because the Coors Corporation now financially supports some women’s, civil rights and gay and lesbian groups. These donations and advertising dollars, however, merely represent a pragmatic, investment- oriented response to the consumer boycott of Coors products — not a rejection of the bedrock rightist and anti-democratic beliefs held by the Coors family.
With the thawing of the Cold War, the views of the New Right’s major funders will to a large degree shape the nature of conservative activism in the coming decades. To study the past action and ideas of the Coors family provides an imperfect yet useful glimpse into the future of the U.S. political right.