Despite apology Target controversy continues

According to the Chicago Tribune, the controversy revolving around Target’s $150,000 contribution to a PAC that supported a virulently anti-gay candidate continues.

In West Hollywood, this weekend, activists plan a day of buying and returning items to the local Target. Each return costs the company $3.

Human Rights Campaign is negotiating with the company to make an equal donation to an LGBT group. They are backed by members of the San Francisco city council. Target has proposed building two stores in that city. The commissioners are holding up approval of zoning for the stores.

In July, Target hired Matt Zabel, right-wing Senator John Thune’s long-time chief of staff to be their government affairs director. The next week, Target made their donation.

When the LGBT community objected, the company took notice. The Chicago newspaper notes that gays are among Target’s most loyal clientele.

Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s CEO, has apologized for the donation promoting the candidacy of the anti-gay candidate for governor of Minnesota, the company’s home state. He said in the future political donations would be reviewed and approved by their board. But the hiring of a partisan figure like Zabel says more about where the company stands than a make-up donation that HRC might extract from the company.

—  David Taffet

Is Target’s pro-gay image getting tainted?

Target has a, well, target on its back from the gay community.

The bargain retailer that claims “unwavering” support for gay rights — it contributes annually to the Twin Cities Gay Pride Festival in Minneapolis, where Target is based, and has lines by the likes of gay designer Issac Mizrahi — has been tagged for contributing at least $150,000 to a a group supporting a Republican candidate for governor of Minnesota who is considered right wing even by Texas standards: He supports Arizona’s strict immigration law and opposes same-sex marriage. (Some people are even more pissed because the candidate, Tom Emmer, has also supported a ministry by an anti-gay Christian rocker named Bradlee Dean.)

Naturally, the gay community is incensed, even though the contribution is completely legal. Some activists and Democrats are calling for a boycott of the store. My question is: Why are we surprised?

I don’t believe for one minute that Target is, as a corporation, supporting this candidate because it believes gay marriage would be bad for business. Nah, they support him because he would run their home state and have a say in cutting taxes, etc. It’s a business decision.

Should we be angry? Support a boycott? I’m not sure. After all, what would we say if conservatives tried to boycott Target for its support of gay pride events? What if those protesters were successful? I’m not happy about it, but to me, the support is directed not at a single issue (for instance, gay marriage) but a candidate with a wide range of positions — none of which I agree with, but there you go. Keep in mind: Candidtae Barack Obama didn’t support gay marriage … nor did almost all other candidates on the Dems’ side (almost — Clinton and Gore came out in favor… in 2009; too little, too late). Now, if Target contributed to, say, enacting Prop 8, or donated to Westboro Baptist, well, that’s different. And the Bradlee Dean connection? Do we now base our decision on Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon?

Anyway, what do you think? Will a contribution to a political candidate in another state affect your shopping habits? Should it affect mine?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones