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Report: Target continued to fund anti-gay candidates even after CEO apology

Tuesday, December 21, 2010
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Earlier this year, Target Corporation came under fire from LGBT activist groups when it was revealed they had donated money to a political action group that supported Tom Emmer’s bid for Minnesota governor, prompting an apology from Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel.

Emmer, you might recall, is a staunch opponent of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage, and Target’s donation led to nationwide boycotts of the retailer among LGBT consumers and allies. (Emmer lost his bid for Governor to pro-LGBT equality candidate Mark Dayton.)

But a new report today by The Awl reveals that, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission in October 2010, Target continued donating to anti-gay politicians even after Steinhafel reaffirmed the company’s long-standing support for gay rights and committed to reforming the review process for future political donations.

The Awl reports:

After Steinhafel’s August 5 letter, Target’s Political Action Committee, helmed by the former right hand of Senator Thune, Matt Zabel, recorded $41,200 in federal election activity. Of that total, $31,200 went to anti-gay rights politicians or PACs supporting those candidates.

Among the donations:

  • On Sept. 22, Target PAC to Spencer Bachus, who voted to ban same-sex adoption.
  • That same day, Target PAC donated $1000 to recently elected Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. Ayotte previously resigned her post as New Hampshire’s Attorney General shortly after Governor John Lynch signed a set of three same-sex marriage bills into law to which she was opposed.
  • Michigan’s David Camp, who, in addition to supporting a Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage, voted against protecting gays from job discrimination based on sexual orientation, also reported money from Target PAC.
  • Through October, Target PAC recorded thousands of dollars in donations to Michael Crapo and Dave Reichert, both supporters of anti-gay Constitutional amendments, and Rob Portman, a supporter of banning gays from adopting.

After the Steinhafel statement, Target PAC’s money also flowed to other PACs, including $8,500 to Every Republican is Crucial PAC, Freedom and Security PAC and the Majority Committee PAC, all three supporters of both Michelle Bachmann and Roy Blunt.

Most surprising though are Target’s post-apology donations to John Kline and Erik Paulsen, two vehement anti-gay equality candidates. Part of the July outrage over Target’s political giving included these same two candidates.

Target did not offer any explanation for the continued funding of anti-gay candidates.

In October, Target was stripped of its perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2011 Corporate Equality Index, and dropped from HRC’s annual buyer’s guide as a result of the donations.

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