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Stop buying elections! MoveOn to petition Target

By Ron Brynaert
Monday, August 2, 2010 14:32 EDT
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The liberal advocacy group MoveOn has a new target: Target.

The Associated Press reported on July 27, “Under new laws allowing corporations to spend company money on election campaigns, the Minneapolis-based chain gave $150,000 to a Republican-friendly political fund staffed by insiders from departing GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s administration. The group, MN Forward, is running TV ads supporting state legislator Tom Emmer, the presumptive GOP nominee.”

In Minnesota, where Target has its headquarters and opened its first store 48 years ago, Democrats are grumbling about the large donation, and some are talking about striking back at the popular brand.

A few voices are even calling for a boycott in the state, one of Target’s top three for sales. One Democratic-backed group is reaching out to Target employees through Facebook ads urging them to sign a petition opposing the donations.

“I think Target is making a huge mistake,” said Laura Hedlund, a former Democratic campaign worker who picketed outside a suburban Minneapolis Target store on Saturday, urging shoppers to spend their money elsewhere.

A letter sent to MoveOn members Monday asks, “Shop at Target?”

Get this: Target, the retail giant, just became one of the very first companies to take advantage of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowing unlimited corporate cash in elections.1

Target has spent over $150,000 in the Minnesota Governor’s race backing state Rep. Tom Emmer, a far-right Republican who supports Arizona’s draconian immigration law, wants to abolish the minimum wage and even gave money to a fringe group that condoned the execution of gay people. 2

Target must think customers won’t care. They’re wrong: We do care, and we need to let them know that we want Target—and all corporations—out of our elections.

Will you send a message to Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel telling him that you’re not going to shop at Target unless they stop trying to buy elections? Click here to add your name to the petition:

Last week, a Miami Herald blog noted an HRC press release, “The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest civil rights organization working toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality, today placed a full-page ad in the Minneapolis Star Tribune asking Target and Best Buy to make it right, after both companies contributed a total of $250,000 to Independent Expenditure Committee MN Forward.”

MN Forward supports anti-equality gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Tom Emmer’s anti-equality views are clear and he is associated with a group that calls for death and violence toward gay people.

“MN Forward may claim to simply be pro-business, but they are supporting an extremist that is not in sync wit the majority of Minnesotans in the race for governor of Minnesota,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Nobody associated with a group that calls for death and violence toward any group of people belongs in a governor’s mansion, and yet that’s exactly what Tom Emmer is.”

In an open letter to Target and Best Buy in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune, HRC asks the two companies to make it up to their fair-minded customer base by making donations to groups that support pro-equality candidates. Both Target and Best Buy have previously scored 100 percent the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI).

Solmonese added: “Target and Best Buy’s long history of inclusion and fairness makes these donations all the more troubling. These multi-billion dollar companies have spent years treating the LGBT community with respect and dignity. Now they have slapped us in the face for $250,000. We had no choice but to call them out in Minnesota’s biggest newspaper.”

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Target responded to HRC:

Target understands the concerns of the HRC. We have had multiple conversations with the HRC during the past few weeks and will continue our constructive dialogue. Target respects the work of the HRC and appreciates our partnership with them over the years. We hope to continue to work with the HRC in a spirit of mutual cooperation.

At Target, we listen to our guests, our team members and our communities – and we have heard them on this issue. We are committed to doing better and regret that we have let down our team members and guests. We are evaluating ways to make sure they know the high value we place on our relationships with them.

MoveOn’s letter continues,

Once we get 150,000 signatures, MoveOn members in Minnesota will hand deliver the petition to Target headquarters.

The stakes are much higher than one candidate and one company. Other CEOs are in “wait-and-see” mode following the Citizens United decision, according to a former Federal Trade Commission counsel quoted on NPR.3 If we don’t push back hard, this will just be the tip of the iceberg. Other corporations will learn that they can pour money into elections to buy the outcome they want—without paying a price with their customers or shareholders.

We all knew Citizens United would benefit candidates who stand up for corporate CEOs instead of everyday people. But you wouldn’t expect a company like Target to jump in and try to buy an election so quickly. After all, Target made its name by being thought of as the more progressive store in the wake of numerous WalMart scandals.

That’s why MoveOn members are following up on actions of groups like Human Rights Campaign and the Alliance for a Better Minnesota by telling Target that we won’t shop there unless they stop trying to buy elections. Please add your voice now:

The MoveOn petition can be viewed online at this link.

 
 
 
 
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