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Senate Candidate Ted Budd Has a History of Ripping Off Working People

Ted Budd claims that he supports working people — his business and congressional career say otherwise.

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Video narrated by Brian Tyler Cohen

The Class Room at More Perfect Union has exposed how disastrous the GOPs most high-profile senate candidates would be for working people. But, some of the most dangerous candidates are flying a bit more under the radar, like North Carolina congressman, and best friend of the big banks, Senate candidate Ted Budd, who almost seems like he wants to be boring: 

[Ted Budd]: “Mark, I am doing great, I’m going to start calling in just to be put on hold so I can listen to your hold music” 

No one really knows who this guy is, but he wants us to picture him a very specific way:

[Ted Budd, campaign ad]: “I”m Ted Budd, and I’m a small businessman

[Budd, primary victory speech] “I’m Ted Budd I’m a small businessman

[Budd, campaign speech]: “small businessman”

[Budd, Sean Hannity podcast]: “I’m a small business person

But, The Class Room Team at More Perfect Union looked at his record, and what we found is clear: Budd isn’t allied with farmers and working people, but rather, big banks and billionaires, and he brags about it. 

At every step of his career, Ted Budd has hurt working people–and it’s not just your average corporate Republican stuff, it’s worse–and there’s data to prove it. So let’s dig in, in Brian Tyler Cohen’s latest collab with More Perfect Union’s The Class Room.

How Ted Budd’s Business Career Hurt Working People

One of Ted Budd’s biggest selling points is made clear on his website, “Ted grew up on a cattle and commercial chicken farm… His parents were small business owners…”

But even those basic facts are deceitful. The Budd family business is the enormous Budd Group, which today employs over 5000 people. It’s a janitorial, maintenance, and landscaping staffing company: they hire workers in those fields, then get contracts with schools, offices, hospitals, and other facilities and send those workers there. 

The company is private, so we don’t have access to their financials, but some sources suggest revenues from 150 to 500 million dollars a year. Which brings us back to Budd’s official biography: “from an early age, Ted learned that hard work, family, and faith are the building blocks to success.”

Hard work? Not so much. But family? Definitely. When Budd finished his MBA at Wake Forest University–an elite private school–he was immediately offered a job as Vice President at that family company. 

Budd acts like his working experience gives him empathy for working North Carolinians, but a look at The Budd Group’s business model shows anything but.

When The Budd Group takes over maintenance or custodial work from an organization, they often pay the workers less than they were making when they worked directly for the organization. That includes workers who were fired for The Budd Group to take over, and then rehired with a worse contract. 

This has been documented at schools like Budd’s own alma mater, Wake Forest. Students there successfully got the school to agree to pay all staff a living wage–but the Budd Group found a loophole: if the Budd Group is the employer, they could pay less. According to Wake Forest student journalism a 2022 Budd Group job listing for a Wake Forest position pays $10.50, “well below the living wage of $15.95 for one adult with no children.”

A similar situation happened at the Rock Hill Public School District in South Carolina in 2012. Custodial staff were told they no longer had summer work, it had been contracted out by the Budd Group, but they were welcome to work for Budd: at 7.25 an hour. The school paid 12.50 an hour.

Today, the Budd Group lists “school custodian” jobs in the area for “8-10 dollars” an hour. 

Ted Budd was not at the Budd Group during these two examples, but he worked there prior when the precedent was set. He is still financially connected to the company and he did have a leadership role for years, so let’s look at what he did do, through what he brags about on his LinkedIn. I’ll translate from “manager speak” to “worker speak.”

“Designed and co-led company wide reorganization, leading to largest revenue growth in 40 years.” That’s how Budd-types describe layoffs.

“Led diverse team in Florida to reduce workers comp claims.” I barely need to translate that one: Ted helped the Budd group steal money from workers injured on the job. But at least it was a diverse team! 

“Implemented a company-wide electronic time keeping system that lowered labor cost over 1 million dollars.” That’s a tool that makes wage theft easier, “lowered labor cost,” just means taking that out of the pockets of workers. 

And, of course, “Wrote current mission statement,” which is the ultimate blow-off job a dad would give his son working for his giant corporation. 

But, isn’t this guy supposed to be a farmer? 

Budd did grow up on a farm, and he still lives on the family farm today–nice thing to get for free from your family! But, he really isn’t a friend to farmers. 

In the late 90s, Budd’s family owned an agricultural company that was struggling financially, so the Budds loaned the company 10 million dollars out of their massive familial wealth, but the company also stopped paying small farmers they were indebted to. 

Eventually, the company paid the Budds back, but not the farmers. The company went bankrupt, leaving the farmers $50 million dollars poorer.  

Eventually Ted bought ProShots, a gun store and range. This is the company that Budd bandies about the most in trying to get “small businessman” cred. That cred spurred him to run for congress in 2016. 

In the primary, he got a big boost from the Club for Growth–a massive pro-billionaire, anti-worker SuperPAC focused on destructive policy like eliminating capital gains and corporate income taxes, killing federal public education, and taking away Social Security and Medicare. 

More Perfect Union, in partnership with Sludge, did some great work on Club for Growth’s influence in the 2022 election and their dangerous agenda, you gotta check it out

Their investment in Budd in 2016 worked out. He won his primary and the general election. 

How Ted Budd Hurt Working People as a Congressman

They got what they paid for: Budd played his role as billionaire lackey brilliantly. 

As soon as he got to Washington, Budd introduced the “National Paycheck Protection Act,” which stifled labor unions’ powers to advocate for their members. 

Budd voted to block an increase in the minimum wage, citing his experience as a business owner, because of course a business owner wants to pay people less. 

Budd is the banks’ candidate, and in office he would work to help them even more than he already has. He also voted against giving consumers more access to their credit scores, neutered working peoples’ rights to file class action lawsuits against banks and credit card companies, and voted against financial support for Americans during the last government shutdown. 

He even weirdly posted an article on his own website with the headline, “FRESHMAN REPUBLICAN TED BUDD GETS BANK SUPPORT FOR FIGHT WITH RETAILERS.” That’s Ted Budd bragging about being friends with big banks.

Many of Budd’s votes align perfectly with big donations. 

In 2019 Budd voted against lowering drug prices the same week he got donations from Pfizer and Glaxo Smith Kline. This year, he voted against a bill preventing big oil from price gouging you at the pump one day after he got a campaign donation from an oil company.  

The AFL-CIO broke it down by the numbers, during his time in congress Budd voted in working peoples’ interests just 8% of the time. In 2021 he scored a zero–far below even the rest of his generally anti-worker party. 

And, he betrayed the farming community he relentlessly claims to be a part of. 

In 2018 Budd voted ‘no’ on an important bill for America’s farmers, agriculture is North Carolina’s most important industry, because the bill gave too much food assistance to working families. When the language around food assistance was removed, Budd voted in favor.

Budd also voted against federal funding for broadband internet access in rural areas–even though 30% of North Carolina homes lack reliable high-speed internet. The bill Budd voted no on passed anyway, and provided tens of millions of dollars in funding to his own district–that’s money he didn’t want them to have. 

How Ted Budd Could Hurt Working People as Senator

So, knowing that Budd is so easy to buy, we should look at who is donating to his Senate campaign to see what kind of Senator he would be. 

Like this huge donation from the CEO of Old Dominion Freight Line, a trucking company.

In their most recent earnings call, they said major risks to their profits are “unionization, or the passage of legislation or regulations that could facilitate unionization of our employees.”

Meaning: Budd has motivation to pass anti-union legislation. 

We already told you how friendly Budd is with the banks–and now he is one of only three candidates endorsed by “Friends of Traditional Banking” a SuperPAC that fights for the interests of the financial service industry. One of their main goals is gutting the Dodd-Frank Act, an important piece of legislation that regulates banks to protect working people. The SuperPAC specifically targets the Volcker Rule that prevents banks from the types of dangerous speculation that caused the 2008 financial collapse. They want to support candidates, like Budd, that’ll sacrifice working people to make banks more money. 

Budd’s senate campaign also received huge checks from his old friends from 2016: the Club for Growth. The prolific SuperPAC is throwing almost their entire weight behind Budd this year, as More Perfect Union reported in their great piece on the organization “no candidate has benefited more this cycle than Budd.”

The pro-billionaire group knows he’s a good investment for them.

But, some of Budd’s biggest donors? Budd himself. Top donors have names as varied as “Ted Budd,” “Ted S Budd,” and “Mr Theodore Budd.” 

Makes sense, because Ted, or Theodore, or Ted S, has a net worth of over 11 million dollars. Budd is the exact type of elite he fights for in Washington. 

So, when Budd says, “As your next US Senator I will always vote to make life better for you and your families.”

He isn’t talking to working North Carolina families, he’s talking to bankers’ families, billionaires’ families, bosses’ families, and of course, the Budd family.

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