Alex Blaze

Political power grows out of a barrel of money

Filed By Alex Blaze | December 22, 2010 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: donation plea, money, Republicans, Target, tom emmer

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel, August 6, 2010:10-6-Target.jpg

While I firmly believe that a business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future, I realize our decision affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry.

He was so sorry about his company's donation to a major homophobic politician that we all got together and boo-hooed over what had happened, promised never to let anything like politics come between us, and went out for ice cream.

And you can tell Steinhafel meant he was sorry because he kept on donating to homophobes:

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.

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.

Oh man, feeling the sorrow there. There's lots more at the The Awl, if you're not already crying because of all this sorrow.

Target refused comment because The Awl isn't a huge publication and there isn't much outcry yet for this new round of donations. If they were to comment, it'd probably be along the same lines as their first set of responses, that this is business, not personal. Of course, the economic issues for which they support candidates like these are usually because they're willing to cut taxes by taking money away from schools and social services, as well as increase unemployment (that's the piece of the puzzle that's usually missing from these discussions: corporations benefit from increased unemployment because employees then demand fewer things to work there). Either way, these donations are about screwing people over.

While the newer round of donations is small potatoes in comparison to the first, I still thought Target would have handled this with at least a little subtlety and some finesse. Apparently their strategy is a big "fuck you" to anyone who cared the first time around as they assume that it won't affect their bottom line too much to donate to homophobes.

Isn't "voting with your dollars" grand?


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I was skeptical of the calls to boycott Target in response to the Emmer donations because Target donates a lot to local communities and schools, and actually cared enough to reinforce (via memo) its support for its LGBT associates.

Now I'm bummed because this is a bad pattern. And even though Target didn't get that much of my money, the choices in my town are pretty much between Walmart, Target, and a really crappy KMart.

Did the company split its donations to both sides as many businesses do, or did they target their donations?

The Awl says there was a $500 donation to Keith Ellison.

I think Target's PAC donations were about 70-30, right-wing vs. moderate/liberal.

Until we switch to completely publicly-funded elections nationwide, this crap will continue.

That said: Target executives can donate their own money to any group they choose.

I can shop anywhere I choose.

It's all about choices. Damn it.

Agreed - this is why publicly funded elections are needed. But what the hell, businesses are people now, right? When do they get to skip the donations and just start voting?

The problem isn't that Target donated to anti-GLBT politicians. The problem is that ANY business can make a political donation in the first place.
Come on folks, be realistic. Business is going to donate to politicians who are pro-business. Their responsibility is to the shareholders. NOT social activitist. And they will always choose on that basis.
We can boycott all we want, and they will only find a way to donated in secret. Their money will go to a PAC like the Chamber of Commerce. They won’t make their donations public. What does that gain us?
We need to get the reprobates off the Supreme Court then figure out how to change the law so people have the right of free speech, not money.