Photo by Jerod Harris via Getty Images

Meanwhile, the soup company is in all sorts of corporate turmoil

Mike Pomranz
October 29, 2018

An exec at Campbell Soup saw his planned departure from the company “accelerate” after he caught flak last week for perpetuating unsubstantiated claims that the George Soros-founded Open Society Foundations is helping to shepherd along the much-discussed “migrant caravan” currently on route from Honduras to the US-Mexican border.

Last Monday, then-Vice President of Government Affairs for Campbell Soup Kelly Johnston took to his now-deleted Twitter account and responded to a photo of the migrant caravan by writing, “See those vans on the right? What you don’t see are the troop carriers and the rail cars taking them north. @OpenSociety planned and is executing this, including where they defecate. And they have an army of American immigration lawyers waiting at the border.”

New York Times reporter Kenneth Vogel picked up on the tweet, screengrabbing it—likely with the suspicion that Johnston might try to delete it later (spoiler alert: he was right)—and reaching out to both Campbell Soup and Johnston for comment. The soup brand was very quick to distance itself from the statement, responding, “The opinions Mr. Johnston expresses on Twitter are his individual views & do not represent the position of @CampbellSoupCo.”

By the end of the week Johnston was out. Though Campbell said that Johnston was already slated to leave the company next month, his Twitter activity gave both parties a change of heart. “In the last few days, the company and Mr. Johnston have agreed that under the current circumstances it would be best to accelerate the timing of his departure,” a Campbell spokesperson told CNN Business over the weekend. Johnston’s last day had been Thursday.

If you’re getting paychecks to work for a soup brand, you’d think you might want to keep your tweets limited to things that are at least tangentially about soup. Or, if not that, things that are at least not controversial like beach selfies and that vaporwave night you co-promote. But to fair, as VP of Government Affairs, Kelly Johnston’s job was to lobby the government on trade and agricultural issues, so maybe he figured writing unsubstantiated conspiracies theories would help him cozy up to the POTUS? Sadly, thanks to his departure, we’ll never be able to see how that strategy would have played out.

Meanwhile, Johnston is hardly the only mess happening over at the once mighty soup brand. On Sunday, CNN Business also reported that this past Thursday, the hedge fund Third Point, run by activist investor Daniel Loeb, was suing Campbell alleging that the company’s board members are misleading shareholders. This follows on the heels of a letter from September, where Loeb—whose hedge fund owns about 7 percent of the $11.4 billion company—suggested the entire board needed to be replaced due to “mismanagement, waste, ill-conceived strategy, and inept execution.” Hey, you know who has experience in the hedge fund world and might be able to help sort this whole battle out? George Soros. That is assuming he’s not too busy with other stuff. What do you think, Kelly Johnston?

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