As Thought Front discussed the other day, anyone lauding the Target Corporation’s alleged inclusive values should remember its history of donating to anti-gay politicians before standing in solidarity with the retailer or pledging to shop there more.
But in addition, Target’s present political spending should further sway the public that it does not have a mission of being inclusive or supporting equality for LGBT people.
For 2015-2016 alone, Target has so far doled out about $320,000 in donations, split almost evenly between Republicans and Democrats, but leaning toward the latter. Because of the vast amount of donations Target has made, Thought Front chose only to analyze its donations for this current election cycle.
Target primarily gives contributions to incumbent elected officials of both parties, presumably thinking that tossing a few thousand at each influential incumbent will help the retailer get in his or her good graces. Target also donates to a number of PACs.
Based on FEC data, Thought Front identified $170,000 in donations by Target to ostensibly elect candidates with anti-gay records, based on their ratings by the Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard.
The retailer gave $3,500 to former House Speaker John Boehner, who told HRC, “I oppose any legislation that would provide special rights for homosexuals.” Boehner is opposed to gay adoption and gays serving in the military; said he “can’t imagine” ever supporting same-sex marriage; and opposed protection for gays from employment discrimination because, among other things, “People are already protected in the workplace.” In 2015, he rolled his eyes sitting behind President Obama during the State of the Union address when Obama extolled marriage equality.
Another $2,500 went to 21st Century Majority PAC, which is committed to electing Republican senators and is connected to Sen. Johnny Isakson. Admittedly, Isakson is opposed to state “religious freedom” legislation. But only because he thinks there should be a national religious freedom law: Isakson sponsored the First Amendment Defense Act, which would protect anyone who will not do something based on belief in one man-one woman marriage, or even based on a religious objection to extramarital sex.
Target also gave $1,000 to Sen. John Boozman, who supported a constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage, and joined Sen. Ted Cruz to co-sponsor a bill to let the states define marriage.
The retailer donated $2,000 to Rep. Charles Boustany, in the form of two $1,000 donations. One of the donations came in November 2015, about five months after Boustany pledged, following the Supreme Court’s overturning of DOMA, that “I will work with my conservative colleagues to clarify the law to ensure [marriage] is protected for future generations.”
Another $1,000 went to Sen. Charles Grassley, who opposed reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act because it extended protections to LGBT people, among others; said same-sex marriage was “a bigger issue…than I anticipated”; and has worked with an evangelical group, The Family, which promotes homophobia in Africa, including helping spearhead legislation in Uganda to make homosexuality a capital offense. Grassley then dragged his feet on denouncing Uganda’s legislation, initially claiming he was too busy to form an opinion on it.
Target also gave $2,500 to the CMR Political Action Committee, which describes itself as “dedicated to keeping the U.S. House of Representatives Republican, ensuring a conservative majority in 2016 and for years to come.” The PAC is connected to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who is opposed to same-sex marriage and gays serving in the military.
Another $1,000 from Target went to Common Values PAC, whose mission is “to keep a strong Republican majority in the U.S. Senate.” The PAC’s chair is Sen. John Barrasso, who is also chair of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, which issued a lengthy denunciation of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Among the committee’s concerns was that the bill’s language too narrowly defined what institutions would still be able to discriminate against gays. Target gave an additional $1,000 donation directly to Barrasso.
Rep. George Holding received $1,000 from Target. When the Supreme Court overturned DOMA, Holding issued a blistering response:
I believe in the sanctity of marriage and its role in our society. The institution of traditional marriage is a bedrock of our society and is essential to the best interest and preservation of American families. It is unfortunate that today the Supreme Court diverged from the traditional values upon which our country was founded.
Another recipient of Target largesse was California Rep. David Nunes, who received $2,500. Nunes has been consistently opposed to LGBT rights. He also defended Tea Partiers who called openly gay congressman Barney Frank a “faggot,” saying Democrats brought it upon themselves for “totalitarian tactics.”
Target also gave $5,000 to Rep. Jeb Hensarling, whom HRC expressed major concern over, saying “he’s extremely connected and close to a lot of the right-wing religious groups.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch received $1,000 from Target. Hatch devotes a whole page on his congressional website to touting his support of “Traditional Marriage & Sanctity of Life.”
“Marriage is the fundamental building block of our society,” says Hatch. “For many years, many have tried to undermine the traditional family and have asked judges to redefine marriage, providing a constitutional guarantee for same-sex marriage.” He also lamented that “We’re in danger of losing our religious freedom and our rights,” and is a vocal opponent of the separation of church and state.
Target gave $10,000 to Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who has shown strong support for the Family Research Council, which has such harsh anti-gay rhetoric that the Southern Poverty Law Center designated it a hate group. McCarthy’s wife once said that Christianity is so under attack that “they don’t want you to have the right to be a Christian.”
The retailer also donated $1,000 to Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who said the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage and other issues showed that voters have to vote for whomever is this year’s Republican presidential nominee, even if you have to “Hold your nose” when voting (presumably alluding to Donald Trump), because there needs to be a Republican-appointed Supreme Court justice.
Other donations to politicians who do not support gay rights were $6,500 to Sen. Roy Blunt, $1,000 to Rep. Chris Collins; $2,000 to Rep. Dennis Ross; $7,500 to Rep. Erik Paulsen (in Target’s defense, he once worked there); $3,500 to Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who early in his first term in office pledged to overturn the District of Columbia’s same-sex marriage ordinance; $2,500 to Rep. Susan Brooks; $2,500 to Rep. Kristi Noem; $1,000 to Indiana Rep. Luke Messer; $2,500 to Rep. Jim Renacci; $5,000 to the Minnesota House Republican Campaign Committee; $2,000 to Rep. Patrick McHenry; $5,000 to Sen. Mike Enzi’s Making Business Excel PAC; $4,500 to Sen. Jerry Moran; $30,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee; $1,000 to Rep. Pete Olson; $1,000 to Rep. John Ratcliffe; $1,000 to Rep. Renee Ellmers; $2,500 to Rep. Rob Portman, who supports gay marriage but still earned a score of 45/100 from HRC; $5,000 to the Republican Mainstreet Partnership PAC; $2,500 to Rep. Peter Roskam; $5,000 to Rep. Paul Ryan; $1,000 to Rep. Scott Rigell; $1,000 to Rep. Steve Stivers; $5,000 to Sen. Richard Burr; $1,000 to Sen. Tim Scott; $5,000 to the rightwing Tuesday Group PAC; $2,000 to Rep. Fred Upton; $2,000 to Rep. John Shimkus; $1,000 to Rep. Steve Womack; $1,000 to Rep. Adrian Smith; and $1,000 to Rep. Kevin Yoder.
Target also gave donations to a number of elected officials who support gay rights, mostly Democrats. A rare Republican is congressman Bob Dold, the first House Republican to co-sponsor the Equality Act who was also endorsed by HRC. He has yet to receive a rating from the group.
So before supporters of gay rights act on pledges to shop more at Target because of the retailer’s “inclusive” values, they should take note of both Target’s past and present political spending. Because while the retailer is spending no money in allowing transgender individuals to use the bathroom of their gender identity, it is giving tens of thousands of dollars to support politicians with an anti-gay agenda.