Thursday, August 05, 2010

Target Reaps Political Donation Backlash

Back in January when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Citizens United case allowing coporations and labor unions to donate to political candidates, I was pretty sanguine about it, thinking it might clarify links between donors and candidates.

Talking Points Memo highlights a recent controversy involving Target that illustrates the sort of situation that I had in mind:
We noted recently that Minnesota-based Target had availed itself of the new freedom created by the Citizen's United decision to give $150,000 to support far-right Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. And in so doing they reaped a big backlash. Target's aim seems to have been to support Emmer's economic policies. But the backlash came over Emmer's extremely anti-gay policy stands. (He's also really against waiters.)

Target's CEO has now taken the pretty extraordinary step of issuing a public apology for the donation.

Target, as it happens, has a quite good corporate record on LGBT issues and workplace policies. So it's a fascinating example of how cross-cutting and complicated Citizen's United giving may turn out to be.

If Target had donated to Emmer under the old regime, via 527s and other shadowy routes, would we have even heard about it?

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