Martin's potato rolls had become a popular item among chef-driven burger joints

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Josh Shapiro, the Pennsylvania attorney general who’s the Democratic nominee for governor, is speaking out against a growing boycott of a company part-owned by his opponent’s biggest supporter.

People across the country have in recent weeks begun calling out Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, a Chambersburg, Pa.-based bakery known for its potato rolls, because the family that owns the bakery has given a lot of money to Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor.

Mastriano, a state senator from South Central Pa., has been subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee. He rose to prominence as a leading voice in denial of the 2020 election results, and has been described as a Christian nationalist because of his expressed views.

Shapiro has called his opponent “a dangerous extremist who wants to take away our freedoms.” But he’s not lumping the Martin family in with him.

“Personally, I think Martin’s makes a damn good potato roll and I’m not for boycotting a Pennsylvania business that supports hundreds of Pennsylvania jobs,” Shapiro said in a statement to Billy Penn. “The Martin family runs a private company and has the right to support and employ whomever they want, and I believe that every company should make whatever decisions they feel are best for them and their customers.”

Individuals can contribute any amount of money to candidates they support, under Pennsylvania law — though any contribution more than $100 cannot be in cash.

State law does prohibit corporations and unions from making contributions to political candidates, but they can make independent expenditures advocating for or against someone. Corporations and unions can also pay to establish a political action committee, as long as any contributions to the PAC by individuals are voluntary.

The most significant contribution to Mastriano’s campaign so far was a personal donation from Jim Martin, longtime president of Martin’s until last year, whose parents founded the company. He donated $110k to the campaign. His daughter and wife also made smaller contributions in 2021 and 2022.

Tuesday afternoon, after articles appeared in various national media outlets, Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe provided its first public statement on the issue to Billy Penn.

“We are aware of recent criticisms leveled against Martin’s and our business partners,” said the statement provided by the bakery’s marketing team. It noted that stockholders in the private company — while members of the same family — hold a wide range of views, so the company does not support any particular candidate or party.

Said Martin’s: “We will continue to focus on the values that have made our company successful — baking quality products, providing excellent service to our customers, and supporting the communities around us.”