Stephen Babson: Peddler of arugula and right-wing politics
  • Endeavour Capital
  • Stephen Babson: Peddler of arugula and right-wing politics

Pass the rainbow chard!

When (unannounced) Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush sits down in Portland on April 21— to a $12,500-per-person dinner held to swell the coffers of a Bush-friendly Republican political action committee—there's a good chance the pricey comestibles he'll schmooze over will have come from Portland's favorite progressive grocery store.

The dinner, a fundraiser for Bush's Right to Rise super-PAC, is scheduled at the Portland home of Stephen Babson, who serves on the board of directors of New Seasons Market. His employer, Endeavour Capital, bought a majority stake in the lefty chain in 2009, and is credited with helping New Seasons expand rapidly since.

Babson lists a Seattle address these days when he's contributing money to candidates like failed Republican Senatorial candidate Monica Wehby. But for years he lived in Portland—serving as chair of ritzy law firm Stoel Rives before joining Endeavour. He's kicked big money to the Republican National Committee and Mitt Romney. (Along with contributions to former Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, US Sen Ron Wyden, and—no surprise here—the flamed out mayoral bid of New Seasons co-founder Eileen Brady.) He's also the nephew of beloved former Republican Gov. Tom McCall.

Babson's pricey dinner would seem to be at odds with the public image of New Seasons, the progressive chain that loves to tout how it became the first grocery store ever certified as a B Corporation because of its employee-friendly policies.

Meanwhile, a member of its board is about to raise truckloads of cash for a man who wants to abolish the federal minimum wage.

Babson's politics are also pretty clearly opposed to that of New Seasons co-founder and board chair Stan Amy, a reliable supporter of lefty causes.

Babson's been a loyal Republican—and New Seasons board member—for years, so there's nothing inherently new about this arrangement. It's just worth noting.