Howard Schultz running for president on strength of driving Sonics out of Seattle, $3 Starbucks gift cards

If you haven’t heard by now, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told 60 Minutes on Sunday that he’s considering running for president in 2020 as a “centrist independent,” and lots of people think that’s exactly what the U.S. doesn’t need right now. Which is certainly a valid point, but my first thought was somewhat different: Wait, people are really going to be asked to vote for the guy who moved the Sonics out of Seattle?

To recap for those who have forgotten the Aughts: Starting in 2006, Schultz demanded $220 million in arena upgrades from the state of Washington, threatened to move the Sonics out of town if he didn’t get them, didn’t get them, sold the team to a guy from Oklahoma City while swearing they would stay in Seattle, saw the new guy move the team to Oklahoma City, sued to get the team back on the apparent grounds that the new guy was just supposed to threaten to move not actually do it, lost, and went back to selling crappy coffee. And he was reportedly a terrible boss in other ways as well; as a former Sonics employee wrote later in Deadspin:

One story of Schultz’s cheapness is famous among his former staff. The Sonics’ previous owner, Barry Ackerley, had bought holiday gifts each year for the folks in the front office. When Schultz’s group took over, the custom died. Rightly or wrongly, some of the employees groused that no gesture had been made to them. According to an employee at the time, another of the team’s new owners, Richard Tait, the co-creator of Cranium, heard about the complaints and subsequently gave out copies of his popular board game. Not to be outdone, Schultz followed suit. He gave each employee a Starbucks gift card. One member of the staff—who wasn’t a Starbucks regular—decided to use his card to get some snacks. When he went to pay for his roughly five dollars’ worth of food, he asked how much money remained on the card.

“Well, you owe me money,” the cashier said.

The Sonics employee asked how much had been on the card to begin with.

“$3.50,” the barista replied.

At the time, we would later learn, ordinary customers couldn’t buy a Starbucks card with a value of less than $5. These were custom $3.50 gift cards.

This, apparently, was a bizarre Schultz custom, as several people have testified to on Twitter in the last two days:

And:

Yes, it’s arguably more important to vote for someone for president based on what their policies would be, not on whether they have a record of mismanaging one former business and running another with breathtakingly petty cheapness. But given that everybody in the U.S. is maybe running for president already, you can probably find somebody on that list who isn’t regarded as one step up from a war criminal in his own home town. Okay, not this guy, but somebody.