Subject COORS CARRIES ON INSIGHT FEATURES - January, 1991 News Analysis Still Backing the
Subject: COORS CARRIES ON
INSIGHT FEATURES - January, 1991
Still Backing the Hard Right:
Coors Money Undermines Democracy
By Russ Bellant & Chip Berlet
While the past involvement of the Coors family in conservative causes is
well-established, most people are unaware that the family's rightist goals are
still in place and that their political influence remains strong. Although the
survival and growth of the corporation has required some financial concessions
and a shift in public image, the Coors family empire still represents a threat
to peace, social justice, pluralism and democracy.
Coors family funding continues to flow toward rightist groups, and the
family's political involvement plays a crucial role in the establishment and
maintenance of key organizations defining the political dialogue for both the
New Right and the Religious Right. Ironically, the family derives the bulk of
its wealth from working-class and middle-class people who purchase Coors beer
products. The Coors family, through its political operations, then uses its
share of the profits from beer sales to perpetuate and encourage regressive
governmental and social policies serving only the narrow interests of a
handful of the very wealthy in this country. That they are able to cloud this
reality is due to the Coors Corporation's high-visibility advertising
"The pattern of coors family funding and activism stands in stark contrast to
the mainstream image projected by the Coors Brewing Company, whose advertising
and funding reach out to the African-American, women's and gay communities,"
charges Dr. Jean Hardisty of Political Research Associates in Cambridge, Mass.
"In fact, Coors family funding underwrites a broad and effective attack on the
democratic rights of people of color, gay men and lesbians, and women."
Pillars of New Right
The Coors family is highly influential in shaping the activities of three
organizational pillars of the New Right--the Heritage Foundation, the Free
Congress Foundation (FCF) and the Council for National Policy (CNP)--which
comprise an influential force in Washington, DC. It involvement with these key
groups provides the Coors family with a conservative political base. From
this base, the family is connected to prominent activists in other New Right
organizations, to groups on the Religious Right, and to allies in governmental
agencies and in Congress. For example, FCF is the major New Right political
power base for White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, who engineered the
David Souter Supreme Court nomination.
In reality, the Coors family is a powerful, wealthy, highly organized for for
social change. The change they support with their time and money is a return
to Social Darwinian political and economic morality framed by the unrestricted
demands of market and capital. They see racism ending with the Civil War and
leaving no enduring legacy in the 20th century. In international affairs, they
expect Third World countries to embrace U.S. capital investment without
restrictions. They give money to groups that support the apartheid government
in South Africa, the violent RENAMO army in Mozambique and the
Pretoria-supported UNITA forces in Angola.
The Coors family also funds a right-wing sector of Christian fundamentalism,
which seeks to replace democratic pluralism with so-called "traditional family
values"--that is, an authoritarian, gender-based social order. They support
groups that say homosexuals are an abomination and AIDS is God's judgement on
sinners. They have supported organizations working in alliance with Rev. Sun
Myung Moon and Christian Reconstructionists, both of whom have called for the
abolition of U.S. democracy and the establishment of a theocratic state.
Denizens of the Fringe
What is surprising is the extent of Coors family involvement with groups that
belong properly to neither the New Right nor the Religious Right, but to the
fringes of the ultraright. Even more disheartening is the extent to which
mainstream political organizations evince a willingness to work with these
denizens of the fringe. The Coors far-right links include the following:
- Jeffrey H. Coors sits on the FCF board of directors along with the FCF
director Paul Weyrich, an ardent supporter of the neo-fascist Society for the
Protection of Tradition, Family and Property; and Charles Moser, an editorial
adviser to a publication that praises the Nazi Waffen SS.
- Weyrich, who for years has represented the political interests of the Coors
family in Washington, DC, sponsors the work of a convicted Nazi collaborator,
Laszlo Pasztor, a Hungarian-american who is employed at FCF.
- The Coors-funded Heritage Foundation co-sponsored a 1989 forum with a
pro-Nazi group, the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations.
__Jeff, Holly and Peter Coors were members of the CNP Board of governors in
1988--along with a former Indiana Ku Klux Klan leader, supporters of the
apartheid government of South Africa and ultraright Christian
Reconstructionists who call for the execution of homosexuals, adulterers and
There are other powerful New Right funders, but it is the Coors family who
time and again appear in leadership roles in New Right institutions, offering
a guiding hand along with their signed checks. The family is seen, by critics
and compatriots alike, as being in the front rank of conservative U.S. power
Some observers contend that the Coors empire has moderated politically
because the Coors Corporation now financially supports some women's, civil
rights and gay and lesbian groups. These donations and advertising dollars,
however, merely represent a pragmatic, investment-oriented response to the
consumer boycott of coors products--not a rejection of the bedrock rightist
and anti-democratic beliefs held by the Coors family.
With the thawing of the Cold War, the views of the New Right's major funders
will to a large degree shape the nature of conservative activism in the coming
decades. To study the past action and ideas of the Coors family provides an
imperfect yet useful glimpse into the future of the U.S. political right.
-- 30 --
Chip Berlet works at Political Research Associates, a non-profit center
analyzing authoritarian and right-wing trends. Russ Berlant is the author of
The Coors Connection: How Coors Family Philanthropy Undermines Democratic
Pluralism, a report available from PRA, Suite 205, 678 Massachusetts Ave.,
Cambridge, MA 02139 for $7.50.
Source: PeaceNet - nfd.ifeatures
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