By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com July 26 2013 1:44 PM ET
Target denies the suggestion made by Right Wing Watch on Thursday that the retail chain had "indirectly" supported an antigay candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, in Virginia.
The Minnesota-based company stated that its donations of $50,000 each to the Republican and Democratic Governors Association had been unfairly characterized as partisan. Target claimed that, while it pays membership dues to both groups — organizations that support political candidates — Target stipulates that these dues "not be used for any individual electoral campaigns or other electioneering efforts."
"Target has a long-standing commitment to the LGBT community," said Molly Snyder, from Target communications, in a statement issued to The Advocate.
"We also believe strongly in our civic responsibility to engage in a bipartisan manner at the state and federal level in order to learn about public policy priorities and advocate on issues that affect our business, such as fairness legislation," stated Snyder. "One of the ways we do this is through membership in both the Democratic and Republican Governors Associations, both of which include several hundred other corporate members. When paying for our memberships, we explicitly require that our dues not be used for any individual electoral campaigns or other electioneering efforts. It would therefore be wrong and inaccurate to associate our membership dues with any particular political candidate or campaign."
Right Wing Watch, a division of People for the American Way, wrote on Thursday that Target "is indirectly funding one of the most extreme anti-gay culture warriors in the country." It called Target an "an equal opportunity influence-buyer" and noted the Democratic Governors Association backs Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governors race.
Minnesota-based Target had made headlines for its political contributions in 2010 for donating $150,000 to MN Forward, which created ads there advancing antigay gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. The backlash prompted CEO Gregg Steinhafel to issue an apology to employees and call for a dialogue about future political giving. It has since made a series of public moves supporting LGBT equality, including an ad campaign for its wedding registries that features same-sex couples.
"How did that 'dialogue' lead to support for an organization that is dedicating itself to supporting Ken Cuccinelli?" asked Miranda Blue of Right Wing Watch. "After all, Cuccinelli not only opposes advances in gay rights, he actively wants to remove protections for gays and lesbians that have already been won."