Target Apologizes for Donation to Anti-Gay PAC MN Forward

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel has apologized to employees for Target's donation to anti-gay PAC MN Forward, which funds ads for anti-gay gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, the AP reports:

Target_emmer "Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel wrote employees to say the discount retailer was "genuinely sorry" over the way a $150,000 contribution to MN Forward donation played out. Steinhafel said Target would set up a review process for future political donations.
MN Forward is running TV ads supporting Republican Tom Emmer, an outspoken conservative opposed to same-sex marriage and other gay-rights initiatives that have come before Minnesota's Legislature."

Wrote Steinhafel: "While I firmly believe that a business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future, I realize our decision affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry. The diversity of our team is an important aspect of our unique culture and our success as a company, and we did not mean to disappoint you, our team or our valued guests."

The Human Rights Campaign recently took out a full page ad in the Minnesota Star-Tribune calling on Target to "make it right" for their donations to the anti-gay PAC.


  1. Mark says

    The protest must have been affecting revenue. Nice to hear someone actually admit to a mistake and hear a genuine apology. Well done.

    It will be nice to shop at Target again.

  2. MikeMick says

    Touched at your “genuine” sorrow, but what are you going to do to even the score? The bigots are still $150,000 richer.

  3. Chad says

    I agree. Either get the money back, or make an offsetting contribution which would have to be much greater since early money is like yeast.

  4. Reggie says

    Apologies are overrated. Action speaks louder than words… so, either stop the check, or make a contribution to a pro-gay candidate, or cause. And if you want to be even more “contrite”, make it a bigger amount to the pro gay side. Until I see some POSITIVE action on his part, and not just lip service, I will continue to take my gay dollars elsewhere.

  5. widestanceromance says

    Did Tony Hayward get hired by Target? Apologist FAIL. What Target really regrets is the fall-out/bad publicity, not the donation.

  6. says

    It’s a nice apology. Now that they’ve gotten that off their chest, it’s time for some action. It’s time to correct this epic blunder. How about an equal or bigger donation to a gay rights organization?

  7. stephen says

    It’s within the context of a biz setting, but that is the CEO addressing his employees first. I’m sure Target will spend time figuring out how to do it better.

    Be gracious and give them the chance to move forward. They had always been a solid company previously.

  8. Frank says

    Let it GO! The company is totally gay friendly. Let’s stop fighting with our supporters and go out and take on the real haters!

  9. says

    Frank, I’d normally agree, but in this case the money was going to a candidate who has previously endorsed groups that call for the execution of GLBT folks. A company that supports the Twin Cities Pride events and then turns around and gives an assload of money to Mr. Emmer is not a gay friendly company. There is no such thing as a gay friendly company. There are only good and foolish business decisions, and this was a foolish one.

    We get so focused on monitoring the obvious haters out there, we sometimes forget to watch our friends. Lesson learned.

  10. Jon A. Leslie says

    The other factor to note is that this “apology” for for the employees of Target and NOT to the public. So, as far as I’m concerned, it means nothing. If they make a bigger donation to HRC or a GLTB charity (and cancel the check for the original donation), then I might shop there again. Oh, and what about Best Buy? They’re still haters too, yes?

  11. Timzilla says

    Where’s the apology from Gregg Steinhafel and his wife Denise for personally giving $20,000 to Emmer and Bachmann directly? I don’t suppose we will hear he is genuinely sorry for personally financing the worst gay-hate mongers in United States history.

  12. wonderer says

    Seriously! What do you gays SEE in target??! It sells nothing but trash, garbage, its SO last season! I’m embarrassed for you!

  13. wonderer says

    Besides that…”review process for future political donations”. They already DO that. It’s just a way for them to beet around the bush. They knew what they were doing.

  14. Frozen North says

    You’ll need to see the full letter to appreciate the appology.

    In the letter, he promises to 1) set up a review process for all future political activity in the company and 2) to lead a group of companies and organizations in better including diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

    I, for one, believe he’s sincere. And it’s a lot better of an appology than we’ve gotten from many who’ve done us wrong.

    And seriously, Target (the corp) is very gay friendly. I don’t think anyone who works for it believes it has a big anti-gay agenda.

    Do yourself a favor, let it go, and chock one up to “when protesting actually got something accomplished.”

  15. TANK says

    Right, ethics don’t exist in business…it’s just smart business decisions and not smart business decisions (whatever makes more money?)…is that really your contention? I don’t think it is…I don’t think it can be…magically, in business, one’s obligations, responsibilities vanish for some reason?

  16. Frozen North says

    Here’s the full letter, in case some other source doesn’t print it, which is odd, because the full thing has been released to the public.


    Dear Target Leaders,

    I have heard from many of you, and our team members, over the past week regarding Target’s contribution to MN Forward, and I appreciate your engagement and candor, both of which clearly demonstrate your loyalty and passion for our company.

    In situations like this, it is often difficult to find the right words, but I would like to respond with the same honesty you have shown me.

    The intent of our political contribution to MN Forward was to support economic growth and job creation. While I firmly believe that a business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future, I realize our decision affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry.

    We remain fully committed to fostering an environment that supports and respects the rights and beliefs of all individuals. The diversity of our team is an important aspect of our unique culture and our success as a company, and we did not mean to disappoint you, our team or our valued guests.

    Going forward, we will soon begin a strategic review and analysis of our decision-making process for financial contributions in the public policy arena. And later this fall, Target will take a leadership role in bringing together a group of companies and partner organizations for a dialogue focused on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including GLBT issues.

    Thank you for sharing your input and for your continued commitment to making Target an even stronger company.

    Gregg Steinhafel
    Chairman, President and CEO

    Team members are welcome to share this information with family, friends or acquaintances outside of Target.

  17. malo says

    So we got an apology and now they need to donate the same amount to a gay-friendly organisation, yes. Can Towleroad report back to us when this happens? I will go back to Target then.

  18. ricky says

    So, uh, it is impossible to find a candidate that is business friendly – and supports fundamental rights for gays and lesbians? Is that what Target is saying?

    Given the opportunity, actually, the first opportunity, to contribute money politically – Target as a corporation chose a candidate that is rabidly anti-gay and lesbian – any pretense that MN Forward gave the money to Emmer without Target’s blessing is ridiculous. Furthermore, as evidenced by the very executives who made the decision – Emmer is one of many conservation Republicans with anti-gay views they support with political contributions.

    This apology – coming one week after a mother was reduced to tears over the betrayal this contribution represented – is entirely too little and it is fast becoming too late.

    No, this half-hearted mealy-mouthed apology is not enough to get me to shop at Target again.

  19. says

    That’s right HRC, everything will be forgotten and made right by money. What hypocrisy!!! Target/Best Buy need to tell MN Forward that they want their donation back. That tells me that they truly are sorry. Not a payoff like HRC wants!!!

  20. Bryan Harrison says

    An apology. Isn’t that _nice_?

    Is Target withdrawing its donation, or making an equal donation to a candidate who supports equal rights for all citizens?

    Don’t hold your breath unless you look good in blue.

  21. TampaZeke says

    The real kicker is that the man that Emmer is running against is a DIRECT descendant of the man who founded TARGET!

  22. walter says

    isn’t it amazing how after boycotts, returns, and protests they realizw they made a mistake and totally sorry. they will do it again and again. a positive rating on LGBT issues does not allow for them to hand
    money to people who really hate s.

  23. Derek Washington says

    just don’t give the money to uncle Joe! I hope target donates to the local LGBT center.

  24. says

    this is an empty apology. next year when target offers to donate to the local gay parade, that money needs to be turned down, the target that supports glbt parades is not the real target, the real target is the one that backs politicians who act against the glbt community. this boycott should be permanent. no one i know is forced to buy at target, you can buy anything they sell from another retailer without having to figure out if the money you just spent there is going to end up the the war chest of a politician who will vote against glbt issues. make this issue one that the target management won’t forget when we cause target’s bottom line to suffer.

  25. RED DEVIL says

    Well I guess WalMart will have alot of queens browsing for those deal

    “Save Money, Live Better” WalMart!


  26. ChrisM says

    Apologies are easy – you do what you want and then, if you get caught, you apologize. I’d be more inclined to believe the sincerity of the apology if I could see a donation of double the original amount made to a pro-gay candidate, support of an gay positive initiative or to an equality based organization. And if we’re relying on better donation decisions made “in the future” (as Mr. Steinhafel’s suggests) might I remind you that the future for many of us is NOW.

  27. SteveDenver says

    Could it possibly be because 140,000 people signed the petition damning Target’s anti-gay politics, or because almost 50,000 have joined a “Boycott Target” group, or because Target’s stock FELL $1.3 billion dollars in one day?

  28. Michael says

    I didn’t hear an apology for his and his wifes’s personal contributions to MN Forward. Does he personally approve of Emmer and You Can Run…? Continue the boycott until Steinhafel gets the money returned and donates to a gay-friendly politician. His statement is NOT an apology!!

  29. Rick Smith says

    Time to put your money where your mouth is! When you intentionally do something and then apologize for doing it only because you want to appease people it means nothing. In today’s society apologies are a dime a dozen, actions speak louder than words.

  30. Jacknasty says

    Actions speak louder than words. I’ll believe this apology is sincere when they ask their money back from this gay bashing asshole and donate it to somebody sane.

    If Target had donated this money to a BLACK candidate tied to a rap group which advocated killing white people, Faux Noise would have been wall-to-wall with calls for a boycott from day 1 until Target relented. And that black candidate would have been forced out of the race.

    I plan on cutting up my Target card and returning the bits and pieces to them over the weekend. Target is dead to me.

  31. Single-issue voter says


    MN Forward is NOT AN ANTI-GAY ORGANIZATION. I don’t want Emmer in office any more than anyone else interested in gay rights, BUT STOP FUCKING MISREPRESENTING THE FUCKING FACTS, YOU FUCKWITS!!!

    Yes, I really am that pissed off about this, because that sort of disingenuousness is what makes political discourse in this country so infuriating.

  32. Single-issue voter says

    Here, I did 4 minutes of research. Maybe next time you’ll try harder?

    MN Forward supports DFL *and* GOP candidates. Including this guy:

    Note his vote on the Domestic Partner Death Rights bill (SF341). [vetoed by our nimrod governor, but that’s a separate issue].

  33. joe says

    It’s not an apology. They’re not sorry for making the donation, they’re sorry for “how it played out”. HUGE difference.

  34. says

    Hey Single-Issue… When the scandal broke, MN Forward had one endorsed candidate: Mr. Emmer. The rest of these “bipartisan” endorsements came after the shitstorm had already started. MN Forward may not have a specific anti-gay position as part of their platform, but their actions speak loudly and clearly. Don’t forget… the entire organization is made up of high-level operatives from the administration of your “nimrod governor”. It’s all the same people… with the same ick factor and disdain when it comes to GLBT folks.

    Look, I’ve always liked shopping at Target. I’m not getting my panties in a twist just for the thrill of it. And I can deal with the fact that most companies will support candidates who vow to lower taxes on businesses whether they support civil rights equality or not. There’s really no getting around that, no matter where you shop. But when the candidate that they supported at the time of the donation to MN Forward is someone like Mr. Emmer, whose public support of groups calling for the execution of GLBT folk is well documented, I have to draw the line.

    Like I said before… we get so focused on watching our enemies that we sometimes forget to watch our friends. There’s a sense of betrayal here that isn’t present in most boycotts (particularly in the Twin Cities area), and that’s why I think the emotions are running so high.