Target Faces Protests over Political Donation
By Tom Ryan
As several "Boycott Target" groups sprang up on Facebook,
Target Corp. on Friday defended its $150,000 donation to a group supporting
ultra-conservative Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate, Tom Emmer,
who openly opposes gay marriage. Target was able to make the donation because
of the Supreme Court’s recent decision that threw out parts of a 63-year-old
law that prohibited campaign donations from corporations.
In an e-mail to employees,
Target’s chief executive officer Gregg Steinhafel wrote that the donation was
a business decision.
"Target has a history of supporting organizations and candidates, on
both sides of the aisle, who seek to advance policies aligned with our business
objectives, such as job creation and economic growth," wrote Mr. Steinhafel. "It
is also important to note that we rarely endorse all advocated positions of
organizations or candidates we support, and we do not have a political or social
He also reiterated the retailer’s dedication to equal rights.
be very clear, Target’s support for the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness
remains a core value of our company," said Mr. Steinhafel.
He then listed a number of ways the company supports diversity, including providing
domestic partner benefits and the sponsorship of the annual Twin Cities Gay
The Citizens United ruling changed regulations in about half
of the states, but the Target donation in Minnesota was said to be among the
first major new corporate actions to face scrutiny. Local and national gay
rights groups have particularly condemned the action. By late Sunday, one Facebook
Target Until They Cease Funding Anti-Gay Politics," had more than 27,000
Best Buy’s contribution to the same organization is also being protested.
But Target was said to be singled out because of Mr. Emmer’s conservative views,
which include support of Arizona’s immigration laws.
"[The contribution] seems really contradictory to how they’ve acted in
the past," Monica Meyer, the interim head of the gay rights group OutFront
Minnesota told ABC News. "I do think that people are rethinking
their shopping, particularly during election season. And I have heard some
people saying it’s a good thing Costco exists."
A website, www.goodguide/contributions,
breaks out each corporation’s political donations by party. Although skewed
toward Republican donations, Costco, along with Gap, Walgreens, Rite Aid and
Starbucks, are reportedly among the retailers generally supporting Democratic
Discussion Questions: Should retailers openly support one political party
over another? How big a risk is a consumer backlash from such actions?
- Target, Best Buy Angers Gay Customers By Making Contribution to GOP Candidate – ABC
- Target Corp. defends Minn. political donation – The Associated Press/The
- Open Letter to Gregg W. Steinhafel, Chairman, President, and CEO of Target
Corporation – OutFront Minnesota
- Boycott Target Until They Cease Funding Anti-Gay Politics – Facebook
- Vote with Your Dollars – goodguide.com