Campbell Soup exec under fire for Soros migrant conspiracy theory tweet

Alyssa Newcomb

The Campbell Soup company is distancing itself from a scalding pot of controversy cooked up by one of its executives on Twitter.

Kelly Johnston, who has been Campbell's vice president of government affairs since 2002, and is a former Republican U.S. Senate secretary, on Monday tweeted the baseless claim that billionaire philanthropist George Soros' Open Society Foundations "planned and is executing" the migrant caravan currently heading toward the United States.

Johnston's tweet came on the same day an explosive device was found in the mailbox at Soros' home in Bedford, New York.

The tweet and Johnston's account appear to have since been deleted, but a screenshot was shared on Twitter by Kenneth Vogel, a reporter for The New York Times.

The Campbell Soup Company said in a statement on Tuesday that "the opinions Mr. Johnston expresses on Twitter are his individual views and do not represent the position of Campbell Soup Company."

Johnston could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Open Society Foundations are a grantmaking network backed by Soros' billions that work to promote government accountability and foster tolerance in societies around the world. Soros' record as a deep-pocketed donor to liberal causes has turned him into a boogeyman for the right.

Open Society tweeted on Tuesday that "neither Mr. Soros nor Open Society is funding the effort."

"We are surprised to see a Campbell Soup executive spreading false stories," the tweet said. "We do support the historic U.S. commitment to welcoming people fleeing oppression and violence in their homelands."

In a letter to Open Society, Campbell's interim president and CEO, Keith McLoughlin, said Johnston is leaving the company next month, a decision that was made before his incendiary tweet.

He added that Johnston's comments "are inconsistent with how Campbell approaches public debate."

Soros, an 88-year-old investor and Holocaust survivor, shifted $18 billion of his fortune into his philanthropy last year.

Members of the migrant caravan, which includes more than 7,000 people, said they are fleeing violence and political oppression in their homeland, while others said they left because they needed to find work.