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Nike, the Oregon-headquartered footwear and apparel giant, has worked in recent years to boost ― some argue greenwash — its image via sustainability initiatives.
The company’s “Move to Zero” campaign includes helping to safeguard one of the most important natural tools in the fight against climate change: forests. Through a partnership with WeForest, an international reforestation organization, Nike says it has funded planting more than 1.4 million trees in Brazil and Ethiopia. And in its native Oregon, the company has purchased forest carbon offsets from EFM, a Portland-based investment manager, to make up for emissions associated with shipping its merchandise.
But as Nike portrays itself a champion of forests and an ally in the global climate fight, the company’s billionaire co-founder and chairman emeritus, Phil Knight, is pumping huge money to one of the biggest political allies of Oregon’s logging industry.
Knight has given an astonishing $1.75 million to timber heiress and former Democratic state Sen. Betsy Johnson’s bid for Oregon governor. Johnson, 71, has a long record of catering to extractive industries, namely the logging sector that wields enormous power in Oregon and that made her and her family rich. That deference has recently earned her admiration and even an award from pro-logging activists in the state with ties to several right-wing extremist groups.
Johnson shook up the gubernatorial race late last year when she resigned from the Oregon legislature, where she’d served on the Senate’s powerful joint ways and means committee, left the Democratic Party, and announced her independent candidacy for governor. Johnson officially qualified to appear on the November ballot late last month, after gathering and submitting the required 23,744 valid signatures. She faces Democrat Tina Kotek, the former speaker of Oregon’s House of Representatives, and Republican Christine Drazan, the former Oregon House minority leader.
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