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Politico reports that outdoor clothing and gear merchant LL Bean once again finds itself in the political spotlight, just a month after it got unwanted attention because of a Tweet by then-President-elect Donald Trump.

Back in January, after it was reported that Linda Bean, a company board member and granddaughter of the company’s founder, had donated to a pro-Trump political action committee, one anti-Trump activist group threatened a boycott; Trump then responded by urging people to shop at LL Bean, which irritated anti-Trump folks even more. The problem was that many LL Bean customers hold views about the environment and global warming that are different from Trump's, and they did not want to be patronize a Trump-connected company.

But the bigger problem was that LL Bean always has gone to great pains not to take political positions. Linda Bean's actions were those of a private citizen, but that almost didn't matter in terms of appearances. It made headlines.

Now, Politico writes, CEO Stephen Smith has sent around an internal memo in which he "offered support to employees who may be affected by Trump's executive order blocking entry to the U.S. for visa holders from seven majority-Muslim countries."

Smith wrote: "While we have gone to great pains over the past few weeks to distance ourselves from an unfortunate and unwanted political situation, there have been some more recent developments that have prompted me to share some thoughts and direction ... Recent national policy changes, while dominating the headlines and sparking a wide-range of opinion, are also creating confusion and concern within our family of great employees."

He went on: “We are committed to help our affected employees in any way possible,” and he urged anyone “'personally grappling' with the implications of the ban to reach out to him directly."

The ban was lifted by a federal judge last week, but it now is being reconsidered by an appeals court.

The Boston Globe makes the point that "as of last summer, about 12,000 Somalian refugees had resettled in Maine, including 7,000 in Lewiston, where L.L. Bean operates a manufacturing facility. Somalia is one of the countries named in Trump’s travel ban."

There are few companies with as strong a connection to its employees as LL Bean, and so as much as the company probably would've preferred not to wade into this thing, sometimes a company has to do what a company has to do. Besides, this'll give it some street cred with people who might've been mad at it about the whole Linda Bean thing.
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