Bill Penzey, chief executive officer at Wauwatosa-based Penzeys Spices, continues to draw attention to his company and political positions on social media, comparing the election of Donald Trump and Wisconsin's 2011 battles over public-sector unions in a new email and Facebook post.
Penzey is no stranger to speaking out on political issues, using his company catalog in the past to take aim at Waukesha County residents, the Mukwonago Indian mascot and other topics.
His latest topic is more national in scope. In an email and Facebook post Tuesday evening, Penzey urged supporters to like the company’s Facebook page, writing that Penzeys was “just a few thousand Facebook page likes short of doubling our likes since we first addressed the Republican Party’s open support of racism in this last election.”
The company's Facebook page had more than 108,000 likes as of Wednesday morning and had added 66,000 in the last week.
Penzey made headlines over the weekend with a Facebook post that said Republicans had “just committed the biggest act of racism in American history since Wallace stood in the schoolhouse doorway 53 year ago.”
That post was in response to an earlier email he’d sent to supporters that said Trump’s election signified the “open embrace of racism by the Republican Party.”
He also clarified that he realized not all Republicans voted for Trump and apologized to those who were hurt by his statements.
“I sensed genuine pain at having the strength of character to not go along with what was happening, but nonetheless be grouped in with those who were,” he said of those who had wrote to him in response.
Some Penzey's customers are upset about the CEO's political statements since the election and have pledged to boycot the company.
In his latest post, Penzey acknowledged the company was using the moment to promote its business, writing “we do believe in what we do.”
“Cooking dramatically reduces our susceptibility to irrational thought. And you may have noticed this election has been all about irrational thought,” he wrote.
Penzey also compared the election results with Wisconsin’s political battles over Act 10 in 2011, saying the state “became the trial grounds for how unlimited political spending can overwhelm the will of the people.”
He said one of the lessons he took from Act 10 was the importance of speaking out within the first few months of a political controversy.
“We were caught flat-footed six years ago,” Penzey wrote. “We could not believe the extremism we were seeing. It took us until August to launch our 'Support your local teacher' campaign to counteract Wisconsin's attack on public schools. Seeing the extreme voices being welcomed into the White House and the Cabinet, we can't be caught flat-footed again. We are already on our toes.”