Coors scary family ties
• Millions of dollars from Coors family foundations finance some of the most powerful and virulent right-wing think-tanks and religious groups in the U.S., among them the Heritage Foundation ($250,000 in seed money from Joseph Coors started the group in 72), the Free Congress Foundation and the Council for National Policy.
Following the funny money
• The Coors-family-run Castle Rock Foundation and the Joseph Coors Foundation have given money to the Centre for Individual Rights, which has filed legal challenges against university affirmative action programs as well as equal opportunity employment initiatives.
• The Pacific Legal Foundation, another Coors-backed group, has brought legal challenges against rent controls, arguing that they infringe on property owners' rights, and against protections for endangered species.
• The Joseph Coors Foundation has recently cut back its funding of groups outside Colorado, but that has not prevented large grants to the Colorado-based Independence Institute, a Heritage-style "free market" research centre.
Powerful friends in very high places
• The Coors-backed Heritage Foundation drafted conservative policy position papers for both Bush administrations.
• Its Mandate For Leadership II, written when Reagan was re-elected in 84, called for cutbacks in food stamps, Medicare, child nutrition programs, farm assistance and legal services for the poor and the expansion of "low intensity" warfare in several developing countries.
The fine corporate line
• Coors company spokesperson Aimee Valdez says the views of family members are separate from the company's corporate policies, and that the family-run foundations are funded by the Adolph Coors Jr. Trust. That trust, however, actually controls all the voting shares in the company.
• The Free Congress Foundation, also co-founded by the late Joseph Coors (Jeffrey Coors is currently a trustee of the FCF), describes itself as a "culturally conservative think tank" whose focus is on the "Culture War" in America.
• Among the FCF's postings on its Web site is a Declaration Of Cultural Independence, which states that "television ‘normalizes' every deviance, including homosexuality and the inversion of the traditional roles of men and women."
Brewing up a gay storm
• Coors responded to criticism that it is anti-gay by introducing same-sex partner benefits in 1995 for employees and adopting some of the most progressive non-discrimination policies in the U.S. However, critics believe flagging beer sales from a 20-year boycott spearheaded by gay groups, social activists and labour unions provided the real impetus.
• More recently, the company has been forced to run ads in gay papers in the U.S., ironically entitled Straight Talk From Coors, to counteract statements by company chair Peter Coors, who's running for the Senate, that he favours a Constitutional ban on gay marriage.
At lagerheads with labour
• Coors claims to have "good" relations with its 5,700 employees but has a turbulent labour history and is the only major brewer in the U.S. whose workforce isn't unionized, save for a small number at its more recently opened Memphis plant.
• The company required prospective employees to take lie detector tests up until the 1970s. Labour groups say the tests had the effect of scaring workers into toeing the anti-union company line. The company says the tests were intended to "screen out substance abusers, dishonest persons (and) subversives."
• Coors says its beer is made from the cleanest water in the world, but the company has at the same time been cited several times by the Environmental Protection Agency for dumping hazardous waste. Coors was fined $30 million for dumping millions of gallons of waste into the Lowry landfill in Colorado.
• The company's 2003 filing with the Securities Exchange Commission states that the company is also "aware of groundwater contamination at some of our properties in Colorado resulting from historical, ongoing or nearby activities." The company also runs coal mining and aluminum packaging operations.
• In 1992, Coors became the target of Greenpeace protests for its involvement in field experiments for genetically engineered rice and other "pharm" crops aimed at producing human proteins for use as drugs. Coors says it is no longer involved in the project.
Sources: Coors Brewing, Heritage Foundation, Free Congress Foundation, Castle Rock Foundation, Adolph Coors Foundation, Center for Individual Rights, Pacific Legal Foundation, People for the American Way, Independence Institute, Environmental Protection Agency, Securities Exchange Commission, Greenpeace