The logo used by several Facebook groups opposing Target's donation supporting State Rep. Tom Emmer's campaign for governor
Yesterday, Target Corporation CEO Gregg Steinhafel issued a letter to all employees in which he described his sorrow and contrition for donating to MN Forward, a political action committee supporting State Rep. Tom Emmer’s gubernatorial bid. According to a Huffington Post story getting a lot of press today, his apology is less than sincere. The website claims that Target Corporation “was playing both sides of the fence in California’s Proposition 8 battle, except they favored the anti-marriage equality side by a wide margin.”

However, a quick scan of campaign finance reports from the groups pushing Proposition 8 shows that the Huffington Post was a little too eager in trumpeting their findings. While nine Target employees did donate a total of $3,6,50 and one Best Buy employee donated $100, no donor identifying themselves as an employee of Target or Best Buy was a member of either company’s senior management team.

So why did Huffington Post reporter Jason Linkins get his story so badly wrong? Relying on, an invaluable website that collates campaign finance reporting from the Federal Elections Commission and similar bodies at the state level, Linkins looked up donations from “Target Corp” from 2007 to 2008, the year Proposition 8 passed. However, OpenSecrets labels all donations from Target employees and any company-controlled PACs as donations by the company itself. Thus, the nine employees’ donations showed up like corporate cash. Furthermore, a look at expenditures by the Target Citizens Political Forum, the company’s PAC, reveals several donations to anti-LGBT members of congress like Rep. Michelle Bachmann and Sen. Mitch McConnell, but also donations to people like Rep. Keith Ellison, one of the leaders of the LGBT Equality Caucus. It made no donations to, the group that both organized the campaign to pass Proposition 8 and defended it in court in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case.

Linkins may have been wrong about Target’s past anti-LGBT donations, it still remains to be seen whether Target CEO Steinhafel’s apology is all crocodile tears. The letter promises a “review process” for future political donations, to make sure they won’t tick off Target’s customer base, but makes no mention of specific actions to counteract the MN Forward donation.

The Column is a community-supported non-profit news, arts, and media organization. We depend on community support to continue the work of solid LGBT-centric journalism. If you like this article, consider visiting Give MN to make a contribution today.


  1. THANK YOU!!! Fact checking always helps. It hurts our cause to be using lies like the one HuffPo spread.

  2. Jason: Thanks for joining in on this story. But I would like to point out that the Awl piece you link to as a reference to “getting a lot of press” has long since had an update saying the donations were by individuals. In fact, it now has another updated official statement from Target. Furthermore, when The Awl updated to point out the HuffPo story last night, it was with the note “We are trying to establish if these were individual Target employee donations or on behalf of Target Corp, though they are beginning to look like the former. Follow-ups with Target and HRC soon.”

    So, while you might characterize our coverage as “hasty” w/r/t pointing out what HuffPo had published, putting us in a headline saying we were “wrong” is a little disingenuous. Thank you.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here