Apple Political Activity Attracts iRate Protesters

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The latest slick tech gadget is the iDeduction, which allows large corporations to avoid paying their share of taxes. Apple is beta-testing the new application now, apparently.

Over the weekend, flash mob protests popped up in Apple stores across the nation to shed light on what is being called Apple’s attempt to shirk its tax responsibility to Americans. Long free of the political spotlight, it’s no surprise Apple is now feeling more activist heat as the brand has recently ramped up its own political activity and lobbying efforts.[more]

Bnet speaks with the US Uncut, the organization behind the Apple protests, reporting that US Uncut “has targeted WinAmerica, a campaign funded by large corporations to promote the idea of a tax holiday that would allow companies to repatriate $1 trillion in profits they hold overseas to avoid federal taxes.”

The spokesman tells Bnet that, of all the possibilities, US Uncut targeted Apple specifically because of how brand-conscious it is, adding, “If we can put enough shame on Apple’s brand by showing up at their stores, we can hopefully get Steve Jobs and the Apple team to leave the WinAmerica campaign.”

Some of the most active protesting appeared to take place at the Madison, Wisc. Apple store located in West Towne Mall. Madison, already at political activity Defcon 1 over the state governor’s budget bill removing union negotiation privileges, may have been primed for such an action.

Madison, Wisc. Twitter user @annelyttle tweeted a string of photos, adding, “Nefarious #taxdodger #Apple keeps trying to kick us out of their store but we’re coming in waves. #usuncut.”

Naturally, some had fun at the expense of the protest.

Wisconsin-based conservative propaganda outlet The MacIver Institute tweeted a picture from the Madison protest with the message, “protest inside Apple Store in West Towne mall. Not only are they anti jobs, they’re anti Steve Jobs!”

Another tweeted “I’m taking these photos of our #Apple store protest with my iPhone :) #irony #usuncut”

The iRe over Apple’s support for the “tax holiday” comes just months after Apple made aggressive efforts to increase the brand’s lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. In February it was revealed that Apple had retained the services of DC lobbying firm Fierce, Isakowitz and Blalock, which counts amongst its clients Delta Airlines, Ford, Coca-Cola and, eek, BP America.

Between 2001 and 2005, when when Apple began to eat everyone’s lunch, its lobbying spend increased only slightly, from $500,000 a year to about $750,000. By 2008 it had more than doubled, to nearly $1.7 million. Last year it was actually down, to about $1.6 million. Its 2011 lobbyist spending is on track to reach that level.

More surprising, Apple, even as it crushed its competition, has never maintained a Political Action Committee (PAC), the campaign finance organ other corporations like Target insist they need to support pro-business policies. A January 2011 Open Secrets analysis of “PC vs. Apple” political action found it to be no contest, and that in terms of D.C. operations “it’s Microsoft that comes out on top in this digital matchup.”

Apple should tread very carefully within the beltway swamp. What will almost certainly not go over well with a lot of Apple fanboys (if they ever learn of it) is that the firm Apple has hired as its new lobbyist is a stockyard for former Bush administration and GOP veterans. A political action blunder could have severe marketplace consequences for the brand, such as Target learned this year when Lady Gaga abandoned a deal with the retailer over its political activity.

Pranksters in Germany, meanwhile, also punked an Apple store in Hamburg, on Friday — by sneaking the Microsoft Windows logo (which an eagle-eyed observer would have spotted as not exactly the right colors) on the store’s exterior:

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