Target Corp. Changes Political Giving Policies

The Washington Blade's Chris Johnson reports that Target has "changed its political giving policy because the company realized there was an opportunity 'to evolve' its practices" following the last election cycle. You may recall the outrage from the LGBT community after it was revealed that Target had donated $150,000 to MN Forward, a PAC supporting anti-gay candidate Tom Emmer.

The Blade: Minnesota_target

Jessica Carlson, spokesperson for Target, said the change was enacted within the last month after the company’s corporate responsibility committee and board of directors conducted a review of policies regarding public policy engagement.

Among the new changes, which have been posted on Target’s web site, are establishing a policy committee made up of senior executives to guide decision-making for financial support of political activities.

“The policy committee and our CEO are responsible for balancing our business interests with any other considerations that may be important to our team members, our guests or other stakeholders,” Carlson said.

Carlson added the new policy committee will determine whether Target will make political contributions directly to candidates, political parties or to other groups such as 527 or 501(c)(4) committees.

Carlson declined to give information on who was consulted regarding the changes:

One source familiar with the changes, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Target consulted with some LGBT rights advocates on the change.

Carlson added Target has “a long history” of supporting the LGBT community through political giving, volunteerism and event sponsorship.

For example, Carlson said the retail chain donated to Project 515, a Minnesota LGBT group, and this year saw many team members volunteer at Creating Change, an LGBT rights conference hosted by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.



  1. Timzilla says

    I don’t miss shopping there at all and will never go back. Knowing that their CEO and his wifey maxed-out their personal contributions to Crazy Eyes Bachmann and her crew of death haters is more than enough to keep me out of Target forever.

  2. Tollendyr says

    This is a big whopping serving of “Too Little, Too #$%#$%ing late.”

    You can’t for MONTHS after something like this is done act like it’s no big deal, and then turn around and hope that a vague “policy change” is going to win back the people you burned by giving money to Hatemongers and Bigots.

  3. ricky says

    Much like the CEO’s non-apology in August – this too is meaningless – there is nothing here that assures anyone that Target will not do exactly what they want regarding politics – period. And much like – after the CEO’s apology – Target gave another $40,000 dollars to rabidly anti-gay candidates – they will likely continue to say whatever they think we want to hear – and then do whatever they want.

    I have not shopped at Target since this broke in July – and since writing to the CEO with my outrage. I take great joy in the fact that although they continue to make a profit – which can easily be manipulated when you are as large at they are – they have fallen short of their goals and have been at the very low end of expectations since July.

    Until they fire – for cause — the CEO and all their other rabidly Republican and homophobic upper management — I look forward to the day I see a Target store boarded-up.

    PS – My consumer life and choices have been much-improved since I stopped wasting time in Target.

  4. Modern Meet says

    I wonder whether any of these “changes” (all of which seem thoroughly vague and non-committal) are aimed at Target’s plans to have a presence in San Francisco? The SF Chronicle reported a while back that the architectural design for their SF store in Yerba Buena Gardens has been approved and that the store is scheduled to open in Spring of 2012. What a load of crap. Target will never open in SF without a huge fight.

  5. kansastock says

    This has the stench of PR to it. The CEO will sit on the committee AND choose the members. You’d think they’d learn to keep out of political contributions all together.

  6. Yuki says

    I am completely confused at the commenters here. Target has a great history with LGBT people, as the post even states, and after a single donation–done more because of /business/, not anti-gay bias–everyone’s pissed. I don’t get it. Shouldn’t the /rest/ of their history be more important than a single bad decision?

  7. says

    Yuki is right. If you LIVE HERE in Minneapolis, Target is a HUGE proponent in the GLBT community. Sucks that some higher ups used their Target $$ to donate to people against us, but the backlash was a MASSIVE wake up call.

  8. Francis says

    Well, they said they were sorry before, and then continued giving donations to anti-gay individuals, so everything they say going forward should be taken with a grain of salt. With that said, although currently I do not shop there and have no intentions of doing so again, and I’m pleased to know that this nationwide boycott has had an effect on their bottom line and reputation, I’m not against shopping there again if their new changes are legit.

  9. ricky says

    Yuki – No, this is not about a single donation – that Target initially tried to justify as simply business – as though the other candidate was threatening to what – have the state take over Target — this is about an established pattern of behavior at the highest levels of the company.

    This donation – the first they made as a corporation – followed a pattern of political giving – AND HIRING – at the executive level at Target that was not about business – but was about a rabidly anti-gay so-called Christian Republican agenda.

    After the initial defense of it – then half-hearted apology – Target continued to give another $40,000 to some of the most rabidly anti-gay candidates in the country — proving that the CEO’s apologies and assurances are meaningless — they will say whatever they want to the gay community and then do whatever they want.

    And what exactly has Target EVER done for the gay community besides take our money?

  10. PDX Guy says

    So the policy committee is made up of the people that made the decisions about the previous donations? How is that a change? And any of Target’s pro-gay actions were holdovers from the previous executives. This current bunch, especially the CEO, are anti-gay. There is lots of well-documented evidence around. I am very disappointed that SF let them proceed with their plans there.

  11. Francis says

    The higher-ups at Target are almost unanimously anti-gay. Having given personal money to anti-gay politicians, having openly anti-gay personal life stances. So, again, this statement is something we need to deeply investigate further to see how truly serious, if at all, that they are in at least somewhat setting some wrongs right.

  12. STL Man says

    The only thing the CEO and upper management is regretful for is they got caught. He may have apologized to “the team members” but he certainly has not apologized to the “guests”. I sold all my stock in Target last July and have found better shopping patterns and deals locally.

    I understand “pro-business” practices but this was very anti-business. You would think some of those highly paid execs would have done some research on the negatives involved. The CEO needs to go.

    Yes, they have been generous to the LGBT community in the past… however,this donation to hate-spewing candidates was a “here and now” decision designed to hurt my family and friends. The red bull’s eye logo is now pretty sinister looking.

  13. Effie Ewe says

    Targets excuse was even though the candidate was anti-gay, it was ok because he is “pro business”. So would Target give money to a KKK candidate if they were “pro business”? I think not. Sorry Target–great that you’ve evolved, but my personal spending has also evolved and i dont miss you, honey.

  14. just a guy says

    Maybe the anti-gay execs at Target insisted on Target-corp a study to prove that it was bad for their business to be anti-gay…so that’s why it took them so long??? Except, duhhhh, it’s TARGET. Not sure if I’m in a hurry to go shop there again tho.

  15. pete N sfo says

    Okay, Target. I hear you- but I feel skeptical at best. Your previous actions were far from transparent.

    I suppose you’re balancing your statement between how it will be perceived by progressives vs. social conservatives & hoping the whole thing will just blow over.

    I forgive you, but I don’t forget, and I’m in no rush to return.

  16. mcNnyc says

    I would shop at Target in NJ once a week while visiting my family and stopped because of their corporate behavior.
    I thought I would miss it.
    I went back last month because I thought their chosen anti gay governor was defeated…you know…it just doesn’t feel good shopping there anymore.
    The quality had gone down, and knowing how antigay the CEO and management feels..I no longer feel welcome.
    Time may tell but my money and my extended family no longer shops there.

  17. HOCKEYJOCK says

    I’m a proud Minnesotan who loved Target, thinking it was much classier and generally better than the evils of Walmart. But, they really do seem to have layed their cards on the table. Ohhh, so they support extremely anti-gay candidates, no biggie. Yeah, well, enough to lose my respect – and business.

    Also, why is the Target in the pic targeting lac Mille-Lacs? Is good fishing it’s next victim?

    Still won’t sink to Walmart. A crappy local-business destroying Walmart in my small town instead of Econo foods? Nope, noooo thanks.

  18. HOCKEYJOCK says

    Also, I say that as someone who justs expects the overall intelligence and cultural flexibility of people in my state to be better than that. Or what it should be, with an education system not slashed by Pawlenty. Bachmann…? Groups threatening death to gays playing at the stupid GOP/Tea Party/Palin convention? Wtf is going on Minnesotans, get it the f@&$ together already…!

  19. Joe in CT says

    I communicated my displeasure directly to Target and have honored the boycott. This latest action is a small step in the right direction for Target, but it’s very weak. And, it certainly isn’t an apology. While I still won’t shop at Target, I give them credit for adding greater rigor to their political contributions policy. They may actually think twice before doing something politically stupid like this again.

    Frankly, I’m surprised Target even made this announcement. It’s late, it’s weak and it served to resurface an issue they probably hoped would go away. Now, they breathed new life into the controversy and managed to re-inflame people. A more viable PR practice is to simply impose radio silence and let the net chatter fade away.

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