This month LATINO Magazine announced that it was honoring Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) as a corporate role model. It may be interesting to some, however, that the nutritional supplements company has donated money to that organization in the past.
Documents show Herbalife donations
Although the amount is not listed, Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) included LATINO Magazine on the donation list activist investor Bill Ackman gave to The New York Times (page 112). There are also several Hispanic and Latino organizations on that list, including: the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Voto Latino, Latina Style, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the Hispanic Institute and a few others.
Of course while there is an overlap in the Hispanic and Latino populations in the U.S., the two groups aren't interchangeable. However, organizations which support both populations—but none of the ones listed as receiving donations from Herbalife, to our knowledge—have sided with Bill Ackman in calling for an investigation of Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) as a possible pyramid scheme. These organizations have expressed concerns that Herbalife is unfairly targeting low income minority populations.
Latino civil rights groups like the League of United Latin American Citizens, also known as LULAC, have pushed for an investigation. Also in December, the NYPD Hispanic Society urged New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF). In fact, we recently heard that his office is starting to investigate the multi-level marketing company.
Ackman made deals too
Now to be fair, Bill Ackman has also made his share of contributions which some would consider to be questionable. He did make a deal with the man who blew the whistle on Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF)'s operations in 2011. What more people were concerned about was his campaign contributions to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Those contributions were said to have come before the Schneiderman's office began its investigation. Also Ackman was apparently one of the biggest contributors to his campaign.
So it's easy to draw conclusions about who's giving money to whom and why they're doing it, but at the end of the day, there's no proof of motivations—just suspicions and beliefs of shady dealings. And don't forget that both Ackman and Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) have spent loads of money on lobbying—a (perhaps) more acceptable or legal way to convince people to do something, whatever your take on it is.
Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) outspent him last year. The company also added some Hispanic lobbyists to its lineup in the fight against Ackman. So as the battle continues, one question which remains is who the winner will be. Will the winner end up being the one who throws the most money at the problem?