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 OpenSecrets.org, 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 ProtectMarriage.com, 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.