Hannity and conservatives misstated facts about H.J. Heinz Co.


On the July 9 edition of The Sean Hannity Show, ABC radio host Sean Hannity suggested that Senator John Kerry's criticism of American companies that outsource jobs is hypocritical because "the money that his wife [Teresa Heinz Kerry] had made, and her fortune, came from a company [H.J. Heinz Company] ... that outsources some of their jobs and a lot of their jobs are outside this country." Hannity's characterization misrepresents the business practices of the H.J. Heinz Company.

From the July 9 edition of The Sean Hannity Show, which is nationally syndicated by ABC Radio Networks:

HANNITY: John Kerry's gone around the world talking about Benedict Arnold companies that outsource their jobs to foreign countries, and then it was found out that his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and the money she got, the Heinz fortune that in fact -- ... [T]hey're outsourcing the jobs. Well, 76 percent of the jobs they outsource for the Heinz Corporation. And sure enough, Kerry was the guy that was running all over the country talking about Benedict Arnold companies, but yet the money that his wife had made, and her fortune, came from a company that does what he says he abhors. So he's benefiting financially every time he gets on that G5, that Gulfstream V, $50 million jet of theirs, because of the money that she has -- well, he's taking advantage of the fact of well, this money came from a company that outsources some of their jobs and a lot of their jobs are outside this country.

Hannity's statement conflates the outsourcing that Kerry denounces -- the practice of shifting American jobs overseas -- with overseas production. H.J. Heinz Company is a multinational corporation with 50 affiliates operating in 200 countries, employing over 38,900 workers worldwide.* While 70 percent of these employees work in factories overseas, it is critical to note, as USA Today did in an April 20 article, "About 60% of the company's sales are outside America, and the products sold in other countries are often made and marketed locally and in some cases are unique to that region." The article added, "Tomatoes for ketchup sold in the United States are grown largely in the regions surrounding the major processing plants in Ohio, Iowa and California."

Hannity's comment echoed similar misleading allegations that have been made by conservative columnists in The Washington Times, TechCentralStation.com, and the "conservative news, information and commentary" website GOPUSA.com -- each of which has also misrepresented the relationship between the Kerrys and the H.J. Heinz Company.

In his TechCentralStation.com article titled "The Real Benedict Arnolds," James K. Glassman -- the site's host, an American Enterprise Institute resident fellow, and a nationally syndicated columnist -- attempted to tie the Kerrys to the H.J. Heinz Company by referring to it as "the family business of Kerry and his wife Teresa." In fact, as a statement (pdf) released by the company made clear, "[N]either Mrs. Teresa Heinz Kerry, Senator John Kerry nor any member of their family is involved in the management or board of the H. J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ). They have no involvement in the Heinz® Ketchup business or any of the company's other brands or products." Heinz corporate executive Ted Smyth recently told The Washington Post, "There's as much connection between the Heinz company and Kerry campaign as there is between Gore-Tex and Al Gore."*

In light of these attempts to smear the Kerrys by misrepresenting their relationship to the Heinz company, it is worth noting that, as USA Today reported, "[T]he Heinz company's political action committee gave more than $64,000 to GOP candidates [in the last six years], nearly three times the amount given to Democrats"; USA Today also reported that William R. Johnson -- the president, CEO, and chairman of the H.J. Heinz Company -- has given more than $20,000 to Republican congressional committees and candidates in the last six years. The article added that, while the Heinz company's political action committee has contributed over $5,000 to President George W. Bush's reelection campaign, it "has shunned the Kerry campaign."

* This information has been added since this item was originally posted.

2004 Elections
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