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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson June 4, 2020

Facebook post cites wrong fast-food CEO as big Trump donor

If Your Time is short

• James Bodenstedt, the founder of a major Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut franchisee, has donated $544,400 to entities supporting Trump’s re-election so far this campaign cycle. 

• However, Bodenstedt is not “the CEO of the company that owns Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut.” David Gibbs is the CEO of Yum! Brands, which owns Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, and Wendy's CEO is Todd A. Penegor. Neither has donated to Trump.

Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut are facing turbulence on social media from an assertion that their CEO has donated $400,000 to the re-election campaign of President Donald Trump.

"The CEO of the company that owns Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut donated $400,000 towards Trump’s re-election campaign," a June 1 post with 89,000 shares said. "Y’all still finna be eating there?" 

Other posts echoed this message, with one saying, "Wendy’s is cancelled. donated 400k to trump. I repeat, Wendy’s is cancelled."

However, this claim is garbled. The executive who gave six-figure donations to the Trump re-election effort is the franchisee of a smaller number of Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut locations in the southwestern United States, not the CEO of Louisville-based Yum! Brands, the global fast-food company that owns Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. (Wendy's is a separate company.)

The Trump-supporting executive in question is James Bodenstedt, the founder of San Antonio, Texas-based MUY! Brands, a fast-food franchising company with Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut locations. (MUY! is Yum! spelled backwards.) On Federal Election Commission disclosure forms the past two years, Bodenstedt has identified himself as either president or CEO of MUY! Consulting.

The website of MUY! Brands doesn’t list its current number of locations, but a 2012 article in a trade publication that the company posted on its website said at that time it had 230 locations in Texas and New Mexico. The article described MUY! as "one of the nation’s largest Yum! Brands franchisees."

Bodenstedt has indeed been a generous donor to the Trump re-election effort. 

Just during the 2020 campaign cycle, he has made 44 donations to entities working to re-elect Trump, according to Federal Election Commission disclosure forms:

The Trump campaign: $200;

Trump Victory, a joint fundraising vehicle that benefits both Trump and the Republican National Committee: $400,000;

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The Republican National Committee: $144,200.

These donations total $544,400 so far, and they could grow as the campaign progresses. Bodenstedt also donated to other state and national Republican entities beyond those that specifically promote Trump’s re-election.

In mid-May, Business Insider reported that Bodenstedt was one of the fast-food industry figures advising Trump on the restaurant sector’s struggles with the coronavirus pandemic.

The CEO of Yum! Brands, David Gibbs, has not been a major political donor. 

This cycle, Gibbs has made two donations totaling $4,180, and they were to the company’s political action committee, or PAC. A PAC is a vehicle for company executives and certain employees to pool their money so it can be donated directly to candidates and other political committees.

The PAC, called the Yum! Brands Inc. Good Government Fund, has made donations so far this cycle totaling a little over $60,000. Its recipients have included both Republicans and Democrats.

The Republican recipients include former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John Cornyn of Texas, and Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Reps. Greg Walden of Oregon and Hal Rogers of Kentucky. The Democrats include Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Gary Peters of Michigan and Reps. Stephanie Murphy of Florida and Steven Horsford of Nevada.

Wendy's CEO Todd A. Penegor has donated only to his company's PAC, disclosures show. In turn, the Wendy's Company Political Action Committee has donated to multiple Republican lawmakers but also to such Democratic Reps. as Joyce Beatty of Ohio, Stephanie Murphy of Florida, Jimmy Panetta and Jim Costa of California, and Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois. The PAC has not donated to the Trump campaign or outside groups supporting him.

Our ruling

A Facebook post said that "the CEO of the company that owns Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut donated $400,000 towards Trump’s re-election campaign."

This assertion has been garbled. Bodenstedt, the founder of a major Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut franchisee, has donated $544,400 to entities supporting Trump’s re-election so far this campaign cycle. But Bodenstedt is not "the CEO of the company that owns Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut."

We rate the statement Mostly False.

CORRECTION, June 5, 2020: This article has been updated to clarify that Wendy's is its own company and is not owned by Yum! Brands. The rating remains the same.

Our Sources

Facebook post, June 1, 2020

Facebook post, June 2, 2020

MUY! website

Yum! Brands website

Federal Election Commission, donor lookup tool, accessed June 4, 2020

Food and Drink Magazine, "MUY Goes For More," Spring 2012

Business Insider, "The first fast-food franchisee to advise Trump on reopening restaurants has donated more than $400,000 to the president's reelection — including $200,000 in March," May 18, 2020

Delish.com, "The CEO Of A Company That Owns A Number Of Wendy's Franchises Has Donated To Trump Reelection Campaigns," June 2, 2020

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Facebook post cites wrong fast-food CEO as big Trump donor

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