Human Rights Campaign | Minnesota | Republican Party | Supreme Court | Target | Tom Emmer

Target, HRC Refuse to Budge Over Campaign Contributions Funding Anti-Gay MN Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Emmer

Over the weekend, Steve posted about Target's $150,000 donation to the Minnesota Forward PAC, which bought ads for anti-gay gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Target's motivation and ability to give this money is a direct result of the Supreme Court's decision in January to allow corporations to donate freely to political campaigns.

Best Buy has also donated $100,000 to the MN forward PAC, the Star Tribune revealed today. We were warned after that SCOTUS decision that corporations would now be in charge of American politics and it now seems to be manifesting itself in Minnesota.

In these situations, fiscal issues trump social ones, at least in Target's, and now Best Buy's, case.

Emmer A Towleroad reader forwarded the letter he received in response to his complaint to the company, which is similar to an internal letter sent to employees by CEO Gregg Steinhafel in which Steinhafel defended the company's political donations. As The Awl notes, Steinhafel has a personal history of contributions to far right politicians like Michelle Bachmann.

Dear xxxxxxx,

Target has long believed that engaging in civic activities is an important and necessary element of operating a national retail business. What's more important than any one candidate's stance on a particular issue is how we nurture thoughtful, long-term growth in the state of Minnesota.

Our support of causes and candidates is based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business interests. To continue to grow and create jobs and opportunity in our home state, we believe it is imperative to be engaged in public policy and the political process. That is why we are members of organizations like the Minnesota Business Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce and many others. And that is why we decided to contribute to MN Forward.

MN Forward's objective is to elect candidates from both parties who will make job creation and economic growth a top priority. We operate best when working collaboratively with legislators on both sides of the aisle. In fact, if you look at our Federal PAC contributions year to date, you will see that they are very balanced between Republicans and Democrats. For more information please visit, and view the Civic Activity page.

Target has a large stake in Minnesota's future, which is why it is so important to be able to provide jobs, serve guests, support communities and deliver on our commitment to shareholders. As an international business that is proud to call Minnesota home, it is critical that we have a business environment that allows us to be competitive. Our guests, team members, communities and shareholders depend on Target to remain competitive.

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback.


Julie B.
Target Executive Offices

Targetlogo So far national gay rights groups are holding off on any action against Target. Target's donation to Emmer will not affect the company's 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index, which it has received for some time, according to Minnesota's The

The HRC’s Deputy Press Secretary, Paul Guequierre explained it this way in an email to “While political contributions to support candidates are not a factor in HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, HRC finds it puzzling that Target would take great steps to support LGBT inclusiveness while simultaneously helping a candidate who shamelessly rejects equality for LGBT Minnesotans.”

Until this year’s landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision, Minnesota and 24 other states had laws banning corporate donations to political campaigns. The court decision, according to Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board Executive Director Gary Goldsmith, was what allowed Target to overtly donate to Emmer’s campaign.

So far, Guequierre said, the HRC has no plans right now to modify CEI criteria to account for these new possibilities for corporation’s anti-LGBT activities, but he left the door open for changes in the future.

“Now in its ninth year, the CEI’s criteria has evolved,” Guequierre told in an email. “In 2011, for example, there will be nearly a half-dozen new criteria that will be added for evaluation. Criteria will continue to evolve as we come into new information.”

LGBT rights group Outfront Minnesota has called on Target to balance in some way its support for Emmer:

"Target should recognize that its support of Representative Emmer's campaign supports his toxic social agenda, significant parts of which involve targeting GLBT people, immigrants, and low-income workers for discrimination and marginalization. Target should be aware of the damage to the lives of GLBT Minnesotans that its spending in support of Representative Emmer will have. Because of this, OutFront Minnesota calls on Target to do the right thing and make amends for the damage it has done by taking back its donation to Minnesota Forward, or by donating an equal amount to a political committee or cause of its choice that works to combat the attacks, dehumanization and marginalization of GLBT people, immigrants, and low-income workers represented by Emmer and Minnesota Forward."

The Minnesota Forward PAC ad, if you're interested, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Target is my favorite store!!! but bye bye Target! Scott

    Posted by: fsemery | Jul 28, 2010 4:42:40 PM

  2. They didn't call it Human Rights Champagne Fund for nothing. This pathetic organization has done nothing but support the D.C. hotel and catering industry with their bloated "fundraisers." Kathy Griffin did us all a favor by showing what a bunch of humorless, self-important jerks these people are. If they ever decide to do something to truly represent the feelings of the LGBT, something might actually get accomplished. As for Target, Best Buy, Amazon, Kroeger, Walmart, Macy's, Safeway, Costco and all the other "national" retailers that have sucked the regional uniqueness from retail in this country, I say "you get what you pay for." They wouldn't have the money to support anything if we hadn't given them the power with our money. Boycott? Sure, if it makes you feel better, but the next time you want a new toy, the latest X-Box or a 3-D TV, try a local retailer.

    Posted by: Donald | Jul 28, 2010 5:49:49 PM

  3. When does the boycott of organizations that contributed to anti-gay-marriage Democrats, like the president and his DOMA-supporting VP begin?

    Oh, I forgot. Anti-gay action only warrants boycotts when it's *outside* the Democratic Party. My bad.

    Posted by: Brian Miller | Jul 28, 2010 7:19:58 PM

  4. By legal definition, a Corporation is a "Ficticous"{sp} Individual. As such, a Corporation cannot be put in jail, or be executed for murder, or VOTE, or hold political office. Only real individuals can do any of these things. Therefore, on what basis did the Supreme Court base their recent decision that these non individuals can influence with there vast amounts of money the political future of this country? One Corporation can give more money to a particular candidate than can thousands of real individuals.

    Posted by: Jerrry12 | Jul 28, 2010 8:05:46 PM

  5. OK, so my boycott of Urban Outfitters bc of their prop 8 connection continues. And Best Buy blows bc of their return policy (or lack thereof, even if you are just two minutes beyond 14 days).

    But I like me my Target. Why they gotta do this shit? I'm not quite ready to give them up, but I'm watching. I'm watching closely.

    Keep me posted Towleroad. I'd rather not let go of Target, who I thought was a friend...

    Posted by: just a guy | Jul 29, 2010 1:01:13 AM

  6. Oh Tankie! That was priceless! Where's my MasterCard? ROTFLMAO!

    That 'suburban hell' that you so ignorantly label, is one of the most progressive cities in the Los Angeles area, who's median age range is 32 and average income is 60,000+. We see no need to ghettoize ourselves in drug infested, crime ridden WeHo. We have gay pride festivals, gay night at local restaurants that are filled with hundreds of gays and lesbians, and the list goes on and on. Who is making more of an impact in the world, the far leftards who scream and spit, or those of us who live out lives openly, without shame and are vital parts of our community. So bring it on little boy! By the way, are you a ‘Tank’ or a little wimpy little Prius? Do I need a magnifying glass to find out? ROTFLAMO!

    Posted by: Sharon | Jul 29, 2010 2:14:39 AM

  7. Is Sharon in the OC??

    Posted by: wonderer | Jul 29, 2010 11:32:09 AM

  8. Yeah I dont like boycots because they can be super offensive on the other side as well... but that letter didn't clear much up at all... I live within a mile from a Target and I dunno how long i'm gonna remember this but it makes the drive to walmart seem worth it. i can get my electronics there anyway.

    Posted by: mike | Jul 29, 2010 10:14:31 PM

  9. Steinhafel is a right-winger posing as a friend of LGBT causes. He has deep ties to Focus on the Family and other conservative/religous groups-- follow the money (and his family) and you'll see what he really believes. (This is a fact).

    Posted by: Cedarshake | Aug 1, 2010 2:01:38 AM

  10. I wrote Target and told them that my business now goes to Wal-Mart because of this anti-gay move on their part.

    Posted by: hephaestion | Aug 2, 2010 7:30:06 PM

  11. Abraham Lincoln once said "WE all deserve the same rights and freedoms as anyone else, anyone choosing to deny such rights, indeed deserve no rights at all.

    ANYONE whom would choose to deny rights to American citizens should be in PRISON!

    We've been fighting two wars to supposedly protect our freedoms and rights and yet in California based on LIES from some faith based groups we voted to REMOVE RIGHTS and FREEDOMS from "Certain" Americans. It's shameful.

    I will not shop or vote for anyone whom doesn't support equality for all. Target is now on my list. Shame shame shame shame. My wife and I strive to teach our children right from wrong and then you see a corp store doing something like this. Sickening. To me, it would be the same as giving to a terrorist group or the KKK or the MORMONS. All shameful groups.

    I will not stay at a Marriott, because millions from that group go to the LDS church.

    Never trust anyone whom professes to be a CHRISTIAN in order to obtain your votes or business!! You'd better be flying a rainbow flag if you're looking for my business or vote and I will NOT FORGET those whom support those whom find it acceptable to take away rights from AMERICAN Citizens..

    Posted by: chuck | Aug 12, 2010 5:32:29 PM

  12. In the Rhode Island case, the First Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that the state’s disclosure law imposed little burden on NOM and had a valuable governmental interest in identifying the people who give more than $100 to a support or defeat a candidate, the Journal reports.

    In the Maine case, the First Circuit concluded that Maine’s laws “neither erect a barrier to political speech nor limit its quantity. Rather, they promote the dissemination of information about those who deliver and finance political speech, thereby encouraging efficient operation of the marketplace of ideas.” (Here’s a link to the ruling in the Maine case.)

    The Law Blog has sought comment from attorney James Bopp Jr., counsel to the National Organization for Marriage.

    Posted by: viec lam | Oct 17, 2011 4:28:13 AM

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