Here's what Starbucks says: "We rarely make contributions and when we do we're committed to doing so transparently. We believe that we have a responsibility to advocate for public policies that support our business, our partners and the communities we serve."
A professor who specializes in corporate governance sides with Starbucks. "Let's say someone decides to outlaw caffeine," he says. "Starbucks' shareholders would expect the company to represent their interests."