Shell Cuts Ties With Station Owner Over Political Sign
Political support in the United States within the oil industry tends to strongly lean toward the Republican side, though a number of Democrats also receive this type of support. This usually translates to financial contributions in some manner and doesn’t take the form of denigration of that politician’s opponent.
In the case of Royal Dutch Shell, they were uncomfortably forced to deal with a politically overt action by one of their gas stations in Nashville, Tennessee. The company ended their contract with the owner of that station, Bradford Lewis, after he posted a crude remark related to the heated presidential race between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Lewis posted the comment on the electronic sign that drivers and pedestrians see on a daily basis. His strong support of Trump led him to post the following message: “Trump Just Said It. Bill Clinton Did It! The Only P*$$y Trump Ever Grabbed Was Paul Ryan! #TrumpThatB*tch.”
The message was in connection with Trump’s controversial 2005 remarks that appeared to endorse sexual assault. Lewis’ reference to former President Bill Clinton dealt with his past infidelities, while Speaker of the House of Representative Ryan had previously indicated that he wouldn’t endorse Trump.
Shell’s action sparked criticism from Lewis about a violation of his freedom of speech, but the company indicated that guidelines are specifically in place to protect the corporation’s brand. Multiple transgressions can result in a contract termination, with Lewis having previously posted controversial politically-based remarks on the company sign.
The negative publicity stemming from the issue resulted in Shell’s action, with some of the station’s customers showing support for Lewis while others with young children complained about the language used. Lewis indicated that he’s considering litigation over the contract termination.