Target Corp. has made changes to its political giving policy following controversy over contributions the retail chain made to a conservative political action committee in the 2010 election.
Jessica Carlson, spokesperson for Target, said the change was enacted within the last month after the company’s corporate responsibility committee and board of directors conducted a review of policies regarding public policy engagement.
Among the new changes, which have been posted on Target’s web site, are establishing a policy committee made up of senior executives to guide decision-making for financial support of political activities.
“The policy committee and our CEO are responsible for balancing our business interests with any other considerations that may be important to our team members, our guests or other stakeholders,” Carlson said.
Carlson added the new policy committee will determine whether Target will make political contributions directly to candidates, political parties or to other groups such as 527 or 501(c)(4) committees.
Target attracted the ire of many LGBT rights supporters — some of whom pledged to boycott the company — after it was revealed last year that the retail chain donated $150,000 to MN Forward. The group ran ads backing Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who opposes same-sex marriage.
Emmer narrowly lost the election to Gov. Mark Dayton (D), who supports marriage rights for gay couples, but the advancement of marriage legislation is unlikely now that Republicans have taken control of the legislature.
Carlson said Target changed its political giving policy because the company realized there was an opportunity “to evolve” its practices.
“These changes are really reflective of that perspective that we gained over the 2010 election cycle,” Carlson said.
Asked whether Target’s contributions to MN Forward were a factor in this change, Carlson replied, “Well, this has been an evolution, and so based on just generally the 2010 election cycle, we made some changes.”
Carlson declined to comment on whether Target was working with outside groups to implement its change. One source familiar with the changes, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Target consulted with some LGBT rights advocates on the change.
Carlson added Target has “a long history” of supporting the LGBT community through political giving, volunteerism and event sponsorship.
For example, Carlson said the retail chain donated to Project 515, a Minnesota LGBT group, and this year saw many team members volunteer at Creating Change, an LGBT rights conference hosted by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.
Additionally, Carlson said Target has supported Twin Cities Pride and intends to extend support to Pride events in San Francisco and Chicago.