Investors urge Target to look at political giving
MINNEAPOLIS — A few Target Corp. and Best Buy Co. institutional shareholders weighed in April 19 on the flap over the companies’ political donations in Minnesota, urging the boards of both retailers to increase their oversight of campaign contributions.
The Associated Press reported that Walden Asset Management and Trillium Asset Management Corp., both of Boston, and Bethesda, Md.-based Calvert Asset Management Co. filed shareholder resolutions with both companies. Together, the three firms control less than 1 percent of each company’s outstanding shares — 1.1 million Target shares worth $57.5 million and 344,000 Best Buy shares worth $11.3 million — but they are moving the debate over the political giving to a new arena.
Target gave $150,000 and Best Buy $100,000 to a business-focused political fund helping a conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota, triggering a national backlash from LGBT rights groups. The companies made the donations after a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling freed them to spend corporate funds on elections. The candidate, state legislator Tom Emmer, opposes marriage equality and other rights for same-sex couples.
“A good corporate political contribution policy should prevent the kind of debacle Target and Best Buy walked into,” the Associated Press reported Trillium vice president Shelley Alpern as saying. “We expect companies to evaluate candidates based upon the range of their positions — not simply one area — and assess whether they are in alignment with their core values. But these companies’ policies are clearly lacking that.”
The shareholders said the donations don’t mesh with corporate values that include workplace protections for gay employees and risk harming the companies’ brands. Walden senior vice president Tim Smith said such giving can have “a major negative impact on company reputations and business,” according to the Associated Press.
The Target resolution urges the board to review the effect of future political contributions on the company’s public image, sales and profitability and to consider the cost of backing a candidate whose politics conflict with the company’s public stances.
Spokeswoman Amy Reilly said Minneapolis-based Target had nothing to add to previous statements on the matter, including an apology from Chief Executive Officer Gregg Steinhafel.
A spokeswoman for Richfield, Minn.-based Best Buy didn’t immediately respond to a message.
Trial set for minister who performed same-sex weddings
SAN FRANCISCO — A retired Presbyterian minister is facing a church trial for marrying same-sex couples during the brief period when it was legal in California.
The Rev. Jane Spahr has been accused of publicly, intentionally and repeatedly violating church doctrine when she presided at the weddings of 16 couples between June and November of 2008. The Associated Press reported that 11 of the couples were expected to testify as witnesses at the trial that was to begin this week at the Presbytery of the Redwoods in Napa.
It’s the second time the 67-year-old Spahr has faced sanctions from the Presbyterian Church, according to the Associated Press. A regional church court convicted her in 2007 for marrying two lesbian couples, but the church’s top court later acquitted her, saying the ceremonies were not real marriages.
Ricky Martin’s autobiography due in November
NEW YORK — Ricky Martin is set to release his memoir titled simply “Me” on Nov. 2. The Associated Press reported the book will also be released in Spanish the same day. That edition will be titled “Yo,” which is Spanish for “I” and “me.”
Martin has said that preparing to write the book was one of the reasons he decided to reveal earlier this year that he is gay.
Martin said in a statement Thursday that the project led him to extract memories that he had erased from his mind. He says the book was not easy but allowed for an “incredible spiritual journey.”