The CEO of the company that owns Gold’s Gym has long given money to conservative causes and now that support may be backfiring.
Nearly 2000 people have signed an online petition that calls for Gold’s Gym CEO Robert Rowling to cease his funding of groups like American Crossroads that support candidates working against gay rights.
Politico revealed last week that Rowling has donated more than $2 million to American Crossroads, a group founded by Karl Rove. The group backs politicians like Sharon Angle (R-NV) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) who have vocally opposed same-sex marrriage.
The petition at Change.org reads:
I recently learned that Robert Rowling, CEO of TRT Holdings, the owner of Gold’s Gym, has given a significant amount of money — both from corporate and personal accounts — to a political organization founded by Karl Rove. That organization, American Crossroads, is working to elect a number of candidates around the United States.
Unfortunately, the candidates that Rowling’s money is being used to elect are some of the most vehemently anti-gay politicians in the country. These candidates include Nevada politician Sharron Angle, who once said she would ban gays and lesbians from adopting children and that homosexuality would lead to the downfall of the United States, and Roy Blunt, who would like to see the U.S. Constitution rewritten to include a ban on same-sex marriage.
It troubles me deeply that the CEO of TRT Holdings, which owns Gold’s Gym, would give money to help elect these anti-gay candidates. It’s especially troubling given that I always believed Gold’s Gym to be a welcoming place for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation.
I’d like an official response from Gold’s Gym about the anti-gay political donations of one of its senior executives. This type of corporate activity is unacceptable, and it’s a huge disservice to your LGBT customers. They deserve to know the truth about the political priorities of the leaders of both TRT Holdings and Gold’s Gym.
A similar petition caused the CEO of Target to eventually apologize for giving $150,000 to a conservative Minnesota group that supported an anti-gay rights candidate.
Salon‘s Justin Elliot notes that it is for this very reason that wealthy individuals seek to give to groups where they can remain anonymous. “American Crossroads’ partner group, American Crossroads GPS, offers donors exactly that; it has been on a wildly successful fundraising streak,” wrote Elliot.