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Target In Hot Water Again After Donating $50K To PAC Supporting Anti-Gay Ken Cuccinelli

Target Anti-gayMany probably still remember the ensuing controversy when it was revealed in 2010 that Target Corporation donated $150,000 to a PAC that supported homophobic Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. The company subsequently revised its corporate giving policies, and even launched a series of Gay Pride shirts in an attempt to restore its gay-friendly reputation. Unfortunately, it looks as though the company will have to conduct more damage-control, since Right Wing Watch is reporting that the company "contributed $50,000 to the Republican Governors Association, which so far this year has spent nearly $3 million on behalf of [Ken] Cuccinelli’s gubernatorial campaign." Towleroad readers may remember Cuccinelli as the homophobic attorney general from Virginia with an extensive history of homophobic remarks, and who wishes to reinstate a "Crimes Against Nature Law" in the state.

Target protestIt is worth noting that Target Corp. also made the same donation to the Democratic Governors Association, which is throwing its weight behind Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe. Right Wing Watch referred to the move as "equal opportunity influence-buy[ing]." Nevertheless, this indirect support of such a fiercely anti-gay candidate does call into question a previous promise by CEO Gregg Steinhafel to promote “a dialogue focused on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including GLBT issues," or a statement made last year by the company that it is “100 percent committed to the goal of families being respected in all communities including parents who happen to be LGBT."

This year, Target Corp. scored a perfect 100 on the HRC's Corporate Equality Index, a grade that will almost certainly suffer as a result of this donation. Thus far, the retail giant has yet to release a statement or comment addressing this most recent controversial donation. 

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  1. Your analysis is all wrong, RJ. If we tried to follow all the INDIRECT giving, we would never shop ANYwhere. Why don't we stop buying products whenever the CEO of a company gives to an anti-gay candidate? That's indirect giving from the company to the enemy. But if we did that, we'd have to stop shopping at probably half the companies in America. You have to draw the line somewhere. Making an example of Target in this case is just beating up a friend for behavior that is common.

    Posted by: ColinATL | Jul 25, 2013 6:01:25 PM

  2. As usual they probably did it for the Tax cuts....not the beliefs..

    Posted by: Alan Brickman | Jul 25, 2013 6:04:21 PM

  3. I was never fooled by Target's token "transformation." I haven't shopped there in many years and probably will never again.

    Posted by: candide001 | Jul 25, 2013 6:10:37 PM

  4. Just moved my prescriptions to another pharmacy and will take my shopping somewhere else from now on...

    Posted by: Anita Pill | Jul 25, 2013 6:30:12 PM

  5. I dumped Target after the Emmer fiasco and the fake apology. After researching the right-wing nuts who run that company, I knew I made the right choice. Their "support" has only consisted of advertising and profit-making anyway. Compare the actions of General Mills who made a public statement of support for marriage equality in MN, and didn't ask for anything in return; to Target who was "neutral." But of course Target will still sponsor Pride, but only to get their logo plastered all over the place.

    Posted by: PDX Guy | Jul 25, 2013 6:56:46 PM

  6. Personally, since the company donated in equal measure to both parties (and not directly to a particular candidate), I'm neutral in this debate. I understand the passions against Cuccinelli, but nowhere in the article do I get the sense that Target is directly promoting him as a candidate as they did in Minnesota with Emmer. I think we are rushing to judgment, and if we're not careful, we become over-reactionary and it damages our influence with these companies who do support us. Let's not forget that Target was instrumental in supporting the marriage equality legislation in Minnesota.

    Posted by: Keith | Jul 25, 2013 7:03:51 PM

  7. Keith, you are completely wrong. Target did nothing to support marriage equality in MN. As I stated, they were "neutral" on the subject. They did sell t-shirts for an equality organization, but put a cap on the donation, and took the rest of the sales for themselves.

    Posted by: PDX Guy | Jul 25, 2013 7:13:58 PM

  8. The MN situation was very different. In this case Target gave equal amounts to both Governor's associations. They did not give it directly to a candidate, and they have no control of where the money goes once donated. This is actually a relatively common practice, and if we boycott every corporation that does this, turn off your computer, put away your phone, turn off the power, park the car and go live in a cave, because that is what would be necessary to avoid companies that have ever given to a generic Republican organization.

    Posted by: Chris | Jul 25, 2013 7:18:57 PM

  9. The sound bite headline suggests that Target is behind Anti-Gay Ken Cuccinelli in spite of their stated commitment to be “100 percent committed to the goal of families being respected in all communities including parents who happen to be LGBT."

    The headline is an overreach and a boycott based on this donation a stretch.

    It does warrant, however, keeping Target's political activities on the radar.

    Posted by: Mitch | Jul 25, 2013 7:29:59 PM

  10. @PDX. While it's true the company's official position was "Neutral" when it came to the Amendment that was ultimately struck down by voters, you are incorrect in stating that they were neutral when it came to the legislation that legalized marriage equality. The company expressed in a joint letter with 3M, IBM and many other companies that it was the right decision as it helped in recruiting and retaining top-talent employees, and ensured that all employees within the state received equal benefits and pay for equal effort. I'm from Minnesota and know people in the corporate offices, so I'm comfortable and confident in my statement here.

    Posted by: Keith | Jul 25, 2013 8:50:32 PM

  11. It's obvious they're just trying to cover all their bases.

    Posted by: anon | Jul 25, 2013 9:16:59 PM

  12. "This year, Target Corp. scored a perfect 100 on the HRC's Corporate Equality Index, a grade that will almost certainly suffer as a result of this donation." I seriously doubt that a donation to the RGA, as worthy of protest as that is, will have any impact on Target's HRC score.

    Posted by: Patric | Jul 25, 2013 9:25:07 PM

  13. The real question is why does Target feel the need to donate money to any politician at all. I have become entirely suspicious of all corporate giving of this nature. What does Target expect out of donating to this politician?

    Posted by: Chloe | Jul 25, 2013 9:31:34 PM

  14. Keith, I can find no reference anywhere to Target participating in said letter. Can you find a link for me? While I was doing my research, I came across this posting which I think accurately reflect Target's backwards stance.

    Posted by: PDX Guy | Jul 25, 2013 10:03:05 PM

  15. Chloe: You can't figure out what a big corporation like Target stands to gain from Republicans being elected? Really? It's simply in their best financial interests.

    Posted by: JMC | Jul 25, 2013 10:04:27 PM

  16. Jesus, Target. Death wish much?

    Posted by: Richard | Jul 25, 2013 10:16:22 PM

  17. ColinATL and Keith are on the right track. It would be great if every issue was black and white. But, the real world is never that simplistic.

    I admit I'm not an expert on the views of the current crop of Republican Governors. But, here in California, our last Republican Governor (Schwarzenegger) was pretty supportive of the LGBT community.

    There's no proof that Target's donation was earmarked for a single candidate or issue. As such, I will continue to shop at Target.

    Posted by: Ali | Jul 25, 2013 10:26:26 PM

  18. To those of you who are boycotting Target: What company is now getting that money?

    Posted by: Ali | Jul 25, 2013 10:29:20 PM

  19. Honestly, the "boycott" thing is getting exhausting. There must be a more practical way to help rather than scream boycott. Is anybody keeping a list? Looks like we have to boycott all of Russia, Africa, the MIddle eAst, Carribbean, Asia, Poland, Chick-fil-A, Target, any bed and breakfast, half the cake shops, bakeries, Fox News, Coors, black people, Alec Baldwin am I mamking my point? There must be a better way....

    Posted by: FakeOutrage | Jul 25, 2013 10:39:08 PM

  20. And yet, what Schwarzenegger is remembered for in LGBT actions is vetoing twice marriage equality motions from the state legislature and thus helping move Prop 8 into reality as citizen legislation in the middle of his tenure.

    Posted by: LR | Jul 25, 2013 10:39:57 PM

  21. Exactly correct, LR, Target has the same type of schizophrenic relationship with LGBT matters as Schwarzenegger.

    As far as where I am spending my money instead of Target, a couple places are Fred Meyer (a local division of Kroger, which I have not seen any anti-equality activity from as far as I can tell) and BiMart, which is employee owned and stays out of politics. I was surprised how easy it was to give up Target, even after shopping there for almost 20 years. I plan to never go back.

    Posted by: PDX Guy | Jul 25, 2013 11:25:05 PM

  22. The HRC Corporate Equality Index scores are a total scam.

    To get a good score, companies like Target just need to donate money to HRC, support their checklist of employer conditions and/or buy self-congratulatory advertisements in HRC's publications. It's that simple. That a company like Target can score 100 in their index just proves how low the HRC Equality bar truly is.

    As they weight their ratings, indirectly anti-gay political contributions are obviously not a factor that HRC weighs heavily in computing their ratings. If that were true, then almost any company that gives money to a Republican PAC would not get 100% ratings.

    Posted by: Joe in Ct | Jul 26, 2013 12:29:39 AM


    Posted by: Anurag | Jul 26, 2013 3:58:20 AM

  24. PDX Guy: Just because you haven't seen it doesn't mean it's not happening. Kroger just isn't under the microscope like Target.

    From Open Secrets (a site that tracks political donations). In 2012, Kroger Co and individuals working for Kroger donated:
    $96,595 to the Republican National Cmte
    $84,150 to the Republican Senatorial Cmte
    $42,150 to Mitt Romney
    $16,455 to Barack Obama
    $11,000 to DNC Services
    (plus 9 others between $5-10,000)

    Looking at Target, it appears that for every dollar they give to a Republican PAC/candidate, they give a dollar to a Democratic equivalent.

    You may think you're helping by boycotting Target and shopping at a Kroger subsidiary. But, that's not what the numbers suggest.

    Posted by: Ali | Jul 26, 2013 4:04:43 AM

  25. Who said that giving to Democrats was the only correct answer? I don't mind the hedging of bets by giving to both parties, but since you are citing Open Secrets, here is some info on contributors to Michele Bachmann in 2010:

    1 Starkey Laboratories
    2 Hubbard Broadcasting
    3 Deloitte LLP
    4 Target Corp

    So this is not giving money to a general fund that wound up going to her, this is Target giving DIRECTLY to Michele Bachmann. And there has never been an apology for that.
    The thing that makes it worse about Target is that they pretend to be supportive, but behind the scenes are backstabbing. Kroger may be another corporate blob, but they seem to treat their employees OK (at least Fred Meyer appears to, and they are union - I don't even want to get into Target's union busting activities)

    Posted by: PDX Guy | Jul 26, 2013 6:00:45 AM

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