- James Bodenstedt is the CEO of MUY Company, a Wendy's, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut franchisee.
- Bodenstedt has donated more than $440,000 to President Trump's reelection campaign, including $200,000 in March.
- Tilman Fertitta, the CEO of Landry's, is also speaking on the roundtable, and donated $35,000 to the Trump Victory PAC in February.
- "While it's nice that these business owners want to help the government fight coronavirus, it confirms that cronyism is at the root of practically every decision President Trump makes," Donald Sherman, deputy director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told Insider in April.
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The first fast-food franchisee to publicly advise the White House on reopening restaurants across America has donated more than $440,000 to President Trump's reelection campaign.
On Monday afternoon, Trump is set to participate in a roundtable discussion with restaurant industry leaders on the industry's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Leaders include Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary, Burger King and Popeyes' parent company Restaurant Brands International CEO Jose Cil, fine dining restaurateur Thomas Keller, and MUY Company CEO James Bodenstedt.
Bodenstedt is the first fast-food franchisee to take a seat among restaurant industry leaders advising President Trump on the industry's struggles during the coronavirus pandemic.
While experts have said independent restaurants will suffer most during the pandemic, the most prominent White House advisors have been chain CEOs and leaders of fine dining empires. (Will Guidara, the former co-owner of a restaurant empire that includes upscale New York City restaurants Eleven Madison Park and The NoMad, will appear on the roundtable as a representative for the Independent Restaurant Coalition.)
MUY Company is a Wendy's, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut franchisee. While some franchisees only operate a handful of stores, fast-food chains are increasingly relying on independent owner-operators that control dozens of locations. MUY Company is one of these larger franchisees, with hundreds of fast-food locations around the US.
Bodenstedt has made significant donations to Trump's reelection campaign, according to FEC filings.
Since early 2018, the MUY Company CEO has donated more than $440,000 to the president's reelection. His most recent donation was on March 12, when Bodenstedt donated $200,000 to the Trump Victory PAC. MUY Company did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
Billionaire Tilman Fertitta , the CEO of Landry's which owns restaurant brands including Bubba Gump's, Del Frisco's, and Joe's Crab Shack is also speaking on the roundtable. Fertitta donated $35,000 to the Trump Victory PAC in February.
'Cronyism is at the root of practically every decision President Trump makes'
Insider's Eliza Relman reported in April that Trump has given executives who are friendly to his presidency a platform during at his coronavirus press briefings, bringing some on as advisors as the White House develops plans for economic recovery.
Ray Washburne, CEO of M Crowd Restaurant, joined the restaurant industry's "Great American Economic Revival Industry Group" in April. Washburne was the vice-chair for the Trump Victory Committee and has donated thousands of dollars to Trump and the Republican party.
Republican donors including MyPillow CEO Michael Lindell and Jockey International CEO Debra Waller have made appearances during coronavirus briefings.
"While it's nice that these business owners want to help the government fight coronavirus, it confirms that cronyism is at the root of practically every decision President Trump makes," Donald Sherman, deputy director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told Insider in April.
He added, "It's loyalty or patronage to Trump that gets you at the top of the list, whether it's a place on the White House lawn to promote your business, input in the coronavirus response, ambassadorships, and even IG positions."
The White House has also been criticized by some in the restaurant industry for overlooking people of color, women, and small business owners as it seeks out advisors. Monday's restaurant industry roundtable is predominantly white and does not feature any women.
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