This past fall, mega-retailer Target caught a heap of bad publicity when it was revealed that they had made campaign donations in support of then-Minnesota gubernatorial hopeful Tom Emmer, whose hostility to the LGBT community began "with opposition to same-sex marriage and runs through to wholesale denial of equal rights and alliances with organizations whose takes on the gay community neatly align with those Ugandan madmen." Target CEO Greg Steinhafel was forced to make an apology, and promised to begin a "review process for future political donations."
Over at The Awl, Abram Sauer, who covered this story thoroughly during the election season, has made a review of this review process. You'll never guess what he found out!
According to documents filed with the FEC in October 2010, Target continued donating to a bevy of anti-gay politicians even after Steinhafel apologized and committed to reforming the review process for future political donations. These donations even included some of the same anti-gay politicians the company had already been criticized for supporting.
Here's a taste of the specifics:
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.
Supporters of gay equality did get some money. In September, Target PAC gave $1,000 to Chuck Schumer. It also sent a whole $500 to Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Congressman that anti-gay leader Bradley Dean accuses of supporting LGBT rights as a way to bring Sharia law to America.
But donations such as $1,000 to Kelly Ayotte (reported on September 22), who resigned her state post in protest of the legalization of gay marriage and same sex adoption, are far more the norm.
That same day, there is a record of a donation by Target PAC to Spencer Bachus, who voted to ban same-sex adoption. 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. Through October, Target PAC thousands of dollars in donations were recorded to Michael Crapo and Dave Reichert, both supporters of anti-gay Constitutional amendments, and Rob Portman, a supporter of banning gays from adopting. Portman's position on other gay rights won't surprise. On October 4, a donation was reported: $2,000 to David Dreier, whose position on gay rights is quite a bit of theatre.
Sauer also digs up this magical puff piece by Bill George at the Star Tribune, attesting to Steinhafel's general wonderfulness as a CEO. Amid the assertion that Steinhafel is "always classy" and the insistence that it "isn't easy being CEO of a public company," (I mean, you try living off this pittance in America) there's glancing mention of that minor dust-up over these anti-gay political donations:
Suggestions that Target was somehow "anti-gay" cut deeply. The worst one could say about this incident is that Steinhafel may have been naive. But he admitted his mistake and reaffirmed the company's long-standing support for gay rights. As he told me, "Target has the most gay-friendly policies in this state."
I don't think the worst you could say about Steinhafel is that he is naive! More like, "is a liar." But, as Sauer points out, this Strib handjob was written by a former member of Target's board and the author of a book titled 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis that "just happens to count Gregg Steinhafel as one of its profiled 'leaders.'" So, you know: hard-hitting.
GO READ THE WHOLE THING:
The Anti-Gay Donations That Target Apologized For? They Never Stopped [The Awl]