Protests of Target’s political spending continue

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Upshot

A recent Supreme Court ruling permitted corporations to spend on political campaigns. But one company that's delving into politics is facing a backlash, the Associated Press reports.

Liberal groups have been protesting outside of Target's headquarters or stores almost daily since it was revealed that Target Corp. donated $150,000 to pro-business group MN Forward. The business group is backing Tom Emmer for governor of Minnesota, where Target is headquartered.

The donation has drawn the ire of gay-rights groups and progressives because Emmer is a conservative who supports a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-rights organization, has called on Target — as well as Best Buy, which donated $100,000 to MN Forward — to give comparable donations to groups that support candidates who favor gay rights.

Target has not bowed to those demands. Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel, in a letter to employees last month, defended the company's commitment to GLBT rights, adding, "We rarely endorse all advocated positions of the organizations or candidates we support, and we do not have a political or social agenda."

Steinhafel's letter was issued more than two weeks ago, back when the controversy first erupted in the news. The company has since shifted from defending the donation to apologizing and calling for further review of future giving, AP reports. Meanwhile, protests continue.

Supporters of January's Supreme Court ruling, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, say free speech is restricted when corporations are banned from spending on politics. Opponents say the January ruling opens democracy up to control by corporations and special interests.

(Photo: AP/Craig Lassig)