Patagonia abandons Jackson Hole ski resort after far-right fundraiser

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Patagonia, the iconic sportswear company that has built a global reputation on outdoor athletics and environmental activism, will no longer supply its products to the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort after a resort owner hosts a fundraising for the Right-Wing House Freedom Caucus.

Patagonia confirmed on Tuesday that it will no longer sell to the resort, its biggest customer in the Jackson Hole area. The resort company operates retail stores in Teton Village, at the base of the ski area, as well as Hoback Sports and the Jackson Hole Resort Store in nearby Jackson.

The move came after Jay Kemmerer, one of the resort’s owners, co-hosted a fundraiser on August 5, 2021 at a chic Jackson hotel for the House Freedom Caucus. U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and U.S. Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) headlined the event. Admission to the event costs a minimum of $ 2,000 per couple.

The three repeated the former president’s false allegations of electoral fraud and were criticized by conservation groups for their environmental records. Patagonia and the caucus also diverge on social priorities such as the right to vote and the defense of minorities and disadvantaged groups, according to widely disseminated public positions.

Protesters hold signs near a House Freedom Caucus fundraiser organized in part by Jackson Hole Mountain Resort owner Jay Kemmerer. The fundraiser featured former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) and U.S. Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). (Angus M. Thuermer, Jr./WyoFile)

Patagonia’s decision centered on “our very strong commitment to using both our company and our brand to champion our strong priorities,” said Corley Kenna, communications and policy manager at Patagonia. “When there is a lag on this, we take action.

The resort president said Jackson Hole is committed to taking action on behalf of the environment.

“JHMR retail will continue to offer world class brands in all of our stores with the goal of providing the best service and product assortment to our customers,” President Mary Kate Buckley said in a statement. “We have been a leader in the ski industry by adopting initiatives to reduce our energy consumption, recycle consumables used by our employees and customers, and treat the spectacular natural habitat that surrounds us with vision and care.

“We are proud to be the largest hill station today that operates 100% with wind,” the statement said. “We will remain focused on operating a world-class hill station and protecting the health and safety of our customers and employees.”

Kemmerer’s fundraiser drew a group of protesters, some of whom suggested skiers and others should no longer support the world-class ski area by buying ski passes or doing business with it, according to one report of the Jackson Hole News & Guide. One protester, Jorge Colon, said he was ready to cancel the seasonal ski pass he bought to access the sprawling ski area, known internationally for its long runs and radical terrain.

“It’s just a shame it got to this point,” said WyoFile Colon, an active 70-year-old who has worked in various ski jobs over the decades. “I know they provide work for a lot of people, but supporting this group … is quite embarrassing.”

Benefits vs priorities

The management of the complex has struggled to separate itself and its operations from Kemmerer’s political views. The members of the board of directors of the company published an opinion piece in the local newspaper touting the company’s environmental priorities and commitment to the community and guests and welcoming a diversity of perspectives.

Patagonia’s Kenna acknowledged a “long and strong relationship” with the “workers and management team at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, if not Kemmerer himself.

Protester Jorge Colon said he was ready to cancel his seasonal ski pass at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort after owner Jay Kemmerer organized a fundraiser for the House Freedom Caucus. (Angus M. Thuermer, Jr./WyoFile)

“It’s very fair to say that Jackson Hole is a very important community to us,” she said. “We have several [sports] ambassadors who live there. Many of my colleagues love to go there and appreciate all that the region has to offer, ”including the natural environment.

Kenna did not want to reveal how many deals Patagonia does with the ski and resort company.

“It’s our biggest customer in a region – it’s really essential,” she said. “That tells you something about the importance of this relationship. We don’t take the end lightly.

An open invitation promoting a fundraiser on August 5, 2020 for the House Freedom Caucus.

the House Freedom Caucus formed in 2015, and Jordan and Meadows directed it at the same time. The fundraising caucus and three conservatives have views at odds with Patagonia’s ethics.

Jordan and former US Representative Meadows received 3% and 2% of their votes on conservation issues respectively from the League of Conservation Voters. The House stripped Greene from his committee duties in February for “spreading dangerous and fanatic false information,” according to a characterization of The New York Times.

“It’s a shame these people do what they do,” Colon said of Kemmerer, “especially when we know as much as we know today. You can’t get away with this shit in Teton County, ”he said of the fundraiser.

Patagonia has undertaken further boycotts, but is ready to reconsider its withdrawal from the hill station, Kenna said. If the owners reaffirm their commitment to the priorities “especially to protect the planet,” Patagonia “would consider sitting down and discussing this,” she said.

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“It’s basically about staying true to our strong feelings and our responsibility as benefits company defend and advance our priorities, our policies to protect our planet and our communities, ”said Kenna.


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