Et tu, Target?

Oh man.  I hate Walmart.  That’s no secret.  They have BIG problems.  They create BIG problems.  All in the name of money and profit and other fun money-oriented things.  If you need a rundown of the issues people have with Walmart, just check out this wikipedia page (I’m sure there are problems with this page but holy shit, that’s a really, really long list).

And now my Walmart alternative, Target, that has basically always gotten good press for their social and cultural stances, and for their generous donations to important social causes has gone and donated money to some Republican asshole gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota who hates immigrants, hates gay people, and is anti-choice (his name is Tom Emmer – you can look him up.  I’m not linking).

And don’t miss the part where Best Buy is ALSO donating to this guy.

From NPR (via the AP):

Target Corp. on Tuesday defended the use of its new freedom to spend money on political campaigns as employees and gay organizations criticized a $150,000 donation that will help a Minnesota GOP gubernatorial candidate who opposes gay marriage.

Chief Executive Officer Gregg Steinhafel assured employees at the company’s Minneapolis headquarters in an e-mail that the discount retailer’s support of the gay community is “unwavering.” He said employees, some gay, raised concerns that the money is helping state Rep. Tom Emmer, a fiery conservative who is his party’s likely nominee for governor. […]

Target’s money went to MN Forward, a group staffed by former insiders from outgoing Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s administration. MN Forward is running TV ads supporting Emmer. Steinhafel’s e-mail said Target’s political donations are intended to support business objectives such as job creation and economic growth.

He said the company doesn’t have a social agenda or necessarily agree with all the positions of candidates it supports. “Let me be very clear,” he said, “Target’s support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company.” […]

As of Tuesday, Target was the largest single donor to MN Forward, which had raised more than $1 million from industry trade groups and companies including Best Buy Co., Pentair Inc., Hubbard Broadcasting Inc., Davisco Foods International Inc. and Polaris Industries Inc.

Best Buy spokeswoman Susan Busch said the company informed employees of its $100,000 donation early Tuesday and received only a handful of phone calls about it. […]

The contrast between Emmer’s outspoken conservatism and Target’s moderate image is striking. Emmer lauds Arizona’s strict approach to illegal immigration and once advocated chemical castration for sex offenders. Target is known in Minnesota for donating to public school programs, food pantries and the annual Twin Cities Gay Pride Festival.

From CBS News (which reports on why the Republicans blocking the passage of the DISCLOSE Act sucks, too):

Target was reportedly able to make the donation because of the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision which greatly expanded corporations and unions’ ability to spend unlimited money on campaign advertising. The DISCLOSE Act, which would have brought greater transparency in such advertising, was blocked by Senate Republicans yesterday.

The part that really kills me though is that Target’s CEO says that he doesn’t regret the choice to donate this money because he is more concerned about which candidates will be better for his business and his profit (I’m sorry, job growth.  Totally not about profit.  About jobs.):

As you know, 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. MN Forward is focused specifically on those issues and is committed to supporting candidates from any party who will work to improve the state’s job climate. However, it is also important to note that we rarely endorse all advocated positions of the organizations or candidates we support, and we do not have a political or social agenda. […]

As CEO, I consider it my responsibility to create conditions in which Target can thrive, and I promise to do so with the best interests of our guests, team, shareholders and communities in mind.

You know it’s total bullshit that Target doesn’t have a political or social agenda so I resent the fact that he even wrote that.  He implies that they do in the letter when he makes sure to point out all that they do for their gay employees (something he knows is political in this country):

Let me be very clear, Target’s support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company. Some current examples of that support include:

  • Domestic Partner Benefits
  • Sponsorship of Twin Cities Pride
  • Sponsorship of Out & Equal Workplace Summit
In addition, Target’s rating of 100% on the 2009 and 2010 Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index further demonstrates the reputation our company has earned.

So, as much as I can, I will now be boycotting Target. This is hard decision because some of the amazing clothes a very close family member of mine designs are sold at Target.  And plus, I do love the store generally.  I love what they sell, from their clothes (especially for kids) to their toiletries. But I’m pissed about this. I love that they are great to their gay employees.  I love that they have a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index.

But I am incredibly pro-gay marriage, pro-gay rights, pro-everybody, pro-choice, anti-hatred and anti-anti-gay politicians.  And the only true way that I can have an impact here is with my money because the Target CEO has made it clear that that is what this is really all about.

And just to get this off my chest: I fucking hate the Citizens United ruling.  If the Constitution actually meant that corporations are people (there weren’t fucking corporations in 1787, people – talk about activist judges), then it’s time to change it to define corporations as non-people.  Because if Congress isn’t going to make these corporate “people” disclose where their money is going, there’s going to be so much more of this Target shit, just we won’t know.  God, if only rich people had MORE power in politics.  That will fix this country.  That will make things more fair.  That will make sure that all people are looked after and protected in this democracy of ours.  Grrrr.  As Melissa at Shakesville says on her write up about this Target mess,

Because the Supreme Court was all too eager to “let that happen,” it now comes down to average people tracking corporate giving and making their voices heard in opposition to prevent that from happening.

Along with Target, Best Buy (who’s really on my shit list this week), also made a significant donation to MN Forward of $100,000.

Contact Target: Phone: 612-304-6073 / Fax: 612-370-5502.

Contact Best Buy: Phone: 612-291-1000 / Fax: 612-292-4001.


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