Olive Garden has not donated to Trump’s 2020 campaign
CLAIM: Olive Garden is “funding” President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The Olive Garden said in a statement to The Associated Press that the company does not donate to presidential candidates. A search of OpenSecrets.org, which tracks political donations, shows no donations by Darden Restaurants, Inc., which operates the Olive Garden in 2020.
THE FACTS: Social media users began recirculating the false claim on Twitter on Sunday, encouraging users to boycott the chain restaurant. Olive Garden responded with a tweet stating that the information was incorrect and that neither the Olive Garden nor Darden contributes to presidential candidates. Darden operates several chain restaurants, including LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille and Bahama Breeze.
Olive Garden, an Italian-themed chain restaurant, first addressed the claim on Aug.9 after a tweet, which got more than 500,000 likes, included the company on a list of places supporting Trump’s reelection.
“We did send a message to our restaurants to address the inaccurate information in case they got questions from guests,” Meagan Bernstein, an Olive Garden spokeswoman, said in an email to the AP.
The company tweeted Sunday to clarify that Darden does not donate to candidates on the national level. They posted the information after a tweet emerged stating: “Olive Garden is funding Trump’s re-election in 2020. It would be terrible if you shared this and Olive Garden lost business.
In the 2018 election cycle, all contributions to candidates from Darden Restaurants were from individuals, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan research group that tracks money in U.S. politics, which runs OpenSecrets.org. For Darden Restaurants, the site includes a disclaimer that says Darden did not donate the money itself.
“Corporations cannot give to campaigns,” Brendan Quinn, Open Secrets spokesman, told the AP.
The false claim about Olive Garden follows an internet campaign earlier this month that called for a boycott of the luxury gym Equinox and cycling studio SoulCycle after it was announced that the owner of the companies, Stephen Ross, was throwing a fundraiser for Trump.
This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.
Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536