February 17, 2011 at 11:04 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Target enacts new political giving policies

Target enacted new political giving policies following controversy over donations during the 2010 election (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key).

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.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • Learning how to appease the LGBT community through tokenism does not change the fact that Target’s ultimate interests lie with Right wing fascist nut jobs.

    • @Justin: I have been searching for info on Target’s affiliation with Christian dominionism, after reading about it in Talk2Action, and have been unsuccessful. Can you provide a link or two to get me started? TIA….

  • I can’t speak for others but my boycott of Target has nothing to do with Emmer’s stance on gay-marriage. It had everything to do with Emmer’s support of a group calling the murder of gays as “moral”. And Target by supporting Emmer was supporting that message. And everyone seems to want to brush this under the rug. meanwhile gay kids are killing themselves left and right from being bombbarded by messages like this and the idiot ramblings of nincompoop’s like Justin Bieber.

    And Target “establishing a policy committee made up of senior executives to guide decision-making” is laughable as one would assume senior executives and the CEO were already guiding their previous ill-conceived decisions.

  • BS…MS…Piled Higher and Deeper.

  • “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”……….they didn’t confirm this will not happen again they are implying that they will not get caught directly supporting them……

  • Creating a board to “decide” is smoke and mirrors. All they have to do is choose people who will vote the way the company wants them to, in fear of losing their jobs. TARGET will still not get my hard earned cash.

  • It’s not volunteering and generosity when the money comes out of the marketing budget.

  • Wait a min…..don’t the officers and senior advisors of this corporation owe any and all profits to their shareholders? Any money spent comes right out of corporate profits, no mater which “budget” it is accounted to ,thus limiting the return to investors. Sounds like a class action lawsuit just awaiting the “right” shareholders to file………………………………..

  • They seem to have missed the entire point of this. I don’t understand why more companies don’t understand that business has no place in politics–regardless of what the Supreme Court says. Corporations should remain “agnostic” to politics–there is no amount of good that can come from the offense of a customer.

    Stick to making money.

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