Anti-Gay Political Donations by Target Executives Exposed


Given Target's recent contributions to the anti-gay PAC MN Forward and the subsequent outrage, a couple of folks have been looking deeper into contributions made by some of its senior executives.

Abe Sauer at The Awl has an extremely thorough laundry list of past contributions made by top Target execs and it's not pretty.

He writes:

Just to be clear, Target's official PAC, and every single one of its executives leaders except one, have given healthily to a PAC that overwhelmingly supports anti-gay candidates, many who do not even represent Minnesota. So it's confusing when Target's CEO speaks of "our commitment to diversity, and more specifically, the GLBT community" while at the same time working to ensure that legislative offices nationwide are stocked with lawmakers who would work hardest to destroy the GLBT community.

The contradictions are at their worst when Target and its executive leadership laud the company's "Domestic Partner Benefits" while at the same time lopsidedly supporting lawmakers like Pawlenty and Burr, who would deny every gay American such domestic partner benefits as adoption and after-life remains decisions. Have Target executives engineered a wide conspiracy to reduce gay equality? No. Is it worth rewarding Target with a better brand image for its support of a few at the cost of all?

And over at the Huffington Post, Jason Linkis points out that Target employees, as revealed by Open Secrets, donated to a variety of political campaigns, as well as Prop 8, heavily favoring the Protect Marriage camp.

He concludes: "My primary concern in this instance, is with the HRC's Corporate Equality Index, which measures 'workplace practices' but eschews any rating based on political contributions save those made 'to a ballot initiative that is anti-LGBT (such as California's Prop. 8 in 2008).' In this instance, it's just one more red flag that the HRC should have noted before awarding Target a perfect 100% rating."


  1. Chad says

    “In this instance, it’s just one more red flag that the HRC should have noted before awarding Target a perfect 100% rating.”

    You think?

  2. gypsy78 says

    Just another reason why I don’t shop at big box stores whenever it can be avoisded.

  3. warren says

    where do you spend your gay dollars? look up any company on and more than likely they have contributed to republicans or to a PAC which opposes our civil rights.

  4. crispy says

    So the result is that executives at a Fortune 500 company donated to a broad range of campaigns, but primarily leaned conservative.

    How is this different from any other major corporation in America?

  5. ColinATL says

    Look, I’m boycotting Target just like everyone should because of their corporate contributions, but if you followed the dollars of EVERY personal donation made by EVERY employee of a private enterprise, you’d probably find that most every company has a problem.

    I think HRC has many many problems, but this isn’t one of them. You guys are way off here. How the heck is HRC supposed to research and find every personal donation made by every company, in addition to tracking all the other factors (DP Benefits, Pride advertising, etc.)

    At some point you have to draw a distinction between the policies of the corporation and the giving practices of the individuals who make up that company.

    Let’s try and be reasonable here, people.

  6. Tim says

    Yes I think that HRC should take into account in their ratings both the PAC donations a company makes and the personal donations made by the corporations “top” executives. Not ALL their employees, but the executives.

    Target gets a 100% rating from HRC by treating its employees (house faggots) kindly while at the same time working very hard at a local, state and national level against the LGBT community.

    This sounds like the old slavery system to me. Gays who happen to work for corporations like Target have found themselves a nice, compassionate “massa”. But that same “massa” isn’t interested in the conditions for the rest of the gays that they don’t “own”.

  7. True Words says

    It is FUNNY to me that some gays would boycott Target which employees MANY gay people, as a corporation that makes various contributions across the board and sometimes is the only discount store in a specific geographic area…but none of this “anger” came close when Mr. Manhunt donated to the Republican Party…

  8. Andrew says


    If the HRC is to give a ‘grade’ to corporations, it is their responsibility to check out the anti-GLBT givings. If the HRC is not doing a thorough search, they shouldn’t even bother with a grading system.

  9. Andrew says

    I’m glad you think this is ‘funny’. The next time you buy your Ikea rip-off dining room table-thank the gays who put it together.

  10. walter says

    time for another mea culpa from target they realise what they doing please forgive us, we won’t do it again until the next time. bull shit!!!!! hrc should make politican contributions part of its rating system because no matter how LGBT friendly a company seems if he supports bigots it is still a negative.

  11. JNJ says

    It’s ridiculous to hold a corporation accountable for their employees donations. I work for a company whose major charity is breast cancer awareness. My charitable contributions has and will also go to support HIV/AIDS research. They cannot control where I spend my money.

  12. True Words says

    Andrew, the entire point of shopping at IKEA is so I can put it together myself…just like my opinion has been put together with my well skilled mind..

    I am NOT a puppet jumping on one issue after another that plagues the gay world…for too long gays have not towed the line; have made decisions that are weak; have done nothing in regards to national boycotts to bring about change…it has been a little bitch here and there…and it has not added up…

    I mean come on the gay community in California (esp. Homowood) could not get MAJOR stars to come out against Prop 8. Hell, just look at how the HRC and GLAAD are run; they are a business to gather money from the gays that want to feel that they are doing something. It is ALL about distraction and deflection.

    Well, I had better find my allen/hex wrench…

  13. crispy says

    I just searched for Francis Blake, the CEO of Home Depot. In 2008, he contributed $7,000 to the campaign for Ga. Senator Saxby Chambliss… who voted YES to ban gay adoption, voted to amend the constitution to define traditional marriage, and has a 0% rating from HRC. Additionally, he contributed $10,000 to Home Depot’s PAC, which funded a broad range of candidates including Michele Bachmann.

    Do we boycott Home Depot too?

  14. True Words says

    Thank you Crispy…all I am seeing is a pick and a choose of whom/what to boycott…let’s get a list (with some serious fact checking which is not going to come from the HRC); let’s get serious and let’s not be hypocrites like the ones we are against…

  15. crispy says

    The Gap’s PAC contributed to Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman… Coleman opposes recognition of same-sex marriages by either the federal or state governments. In 2004 and in June 2006, he voted in favor of such an amendment to the United States Constitution that would ban any state from issuing marriage licenses to people of the same sex. When he was mayor, Coleman refused to sign a city proclamation celebrating the annual gay pride festival.

    No more Banana Republic, ladies!

  16. Vince says

    As I said on another thread this is yet another case of HRC falling down on the job. As the premier gay rights organization (at least in the eyes of the main street media) they are undermining every bit of progress that the gay community makes while still taking credit for it. It is high time they shook up their organization or their modus operandi. If not, they should be replaced by an organization that is intent on change and not just kissing up to supposed gay-friendly politicians. Their criticism-free attitude toward the Obama administration’s all-talk, no-action attitude on gay issues is more than an embarrasment – it’s treachery.

  17. crispy says

    John Brock, the CEO of Coca-Cola, has contributed thousands of dollars to RNC, John McCain for President, and Saxby Chambliss for Senate.

    This is fun! Who should I do next?

  18. Fred says

    I think the main issue is HRC’s 100% rating for Target, which by now looks like a pretty ludicrous rating or rating system.

    If I boycotted everyone who had a homophobe in the ranks I’d starve and be naked. 52% of Californians voted against gay marriage. Call ’em out by all means (which HRC hasn’t), but take advantage of those “rollbacks”.

  19. ColinATL says

    Look, boycott Target for their corporate contributions, but you have to give up on this effort to boycott all organizations that have Republican CEOs. I think you’ll find that virtually all of them do. If you only buy products from local farmers and manufacturers that you know are supporters, then bully for you. But most of us live in the real world where we buy stuff from people who may not like us every day. Get real.

  20. D.B. says

    Completely agree with (some) the sentiments expressed above — a corporation like Target should be held accountable for its corporate contributions. But it’s wildly off-base to hold any corporation accountable for contributions made by individual executives or employees.

  21. Ninong says

    Target’s “guests relations” department responded to my emailed complaint to Gregg Steinhafel. Here’s the money quote: “At Target, we are fully committed to fostering an environment that supports and respects the rights and beliefs of all individuals.”

    You can read between the lines and take that to mean that we’re the ones who are inconsiderate of the “rights and beliefs” of people like Gregg Steinhafel and his boy Tom Emmer. Steinhafel’s very first explanation was the truth. He said he was exercising his “freedom of speech” by donating to candidates who were “good for business.”

    Steinhafel loves Tom Emmer. Emmer is his kind of guy. He’s only sorry that we found out about his love affair with Tom Emmer.

    Reminds me of the businesses in California that were horrified that their donations to the campaign to pass Prop. 8 were upsetting some of their customers. That’s why the pro-Prop. 8 people worked so hard to keep those contributions secret. All of those businesses were only sorry that we found out about it, that’s all. We should all be ashamed of ourselves for not “respecting their rights and beliefs.”

  22. SFshawn says

    Target has been trying for years to get a store in the actual city of San Francisco and now in 2010 two stores are finally slated to be built. Now that these donations to anti-equality candidates have surfaced it is going to make it much more difficult. Fuck target and their lame excuses. Make it right assholes.
    HRC is a piece of shit anyway.

  23. Charlie-o says

    OK, you all make good points. Taken to it’s logical extreme, we’d have to boycott everything.

    It’s been a lot easier for me to avoid doing business with Arizona, ’cause I do actually do shop at Target. Even if it’s inconvenient, I’m going to think twice about shopping there, and try to avoid shopping at Target – at least for a while. And I’ll think about where my money’s going whenever I shop there again.

    I think it’s a good thing that all these CEOs’ contributions are made public. I wish there were comprehensive lists. And just maybe there are CEOs that are making donations to propositions and to candidates that are working to help us gain equality. And wouldn’t it all make us feel better to be shopping in places like that!

  24. Karl says

    For the record, “Mr. Manhunt,” Jonathan Crutchley

    1. Made a personal donation to McCain
    2. Sincerely believed McCain was not anti-gay
    3. Resigned under pressure from Manhunt, although he runs their philanthropy project now

    Note how these facts differ from the current situation.

  25. Jacknasty says

    “The vast majority of the rest of us middle and working class schlubs want Target in our neighborhood so we can save money.”

    That’s nice. I’m sure you’ll be glad that you saved a couple of bucks as Michele Bachmann has you herded off to the ovens.


  26. Joe says

    Target is such an embarrasment. Their executives lie about their support for us and their corporation’s anti-gay contributions deserve our collective thumbs down. They are either stupid or hateful. Probably just stupid. Do not shop at Target or Best Buy.