Don’t Let Target Apologize For Its $150K Donation By Giving Money to HRC

How is Target hoping to recover from its MN Forward political donation disaster? By considering giving an equal amount of money to the Human Rights Campaign. We shouldn’t let them get off so easy. (Updated: See below.)

HRC is in “private talks” with Target’s executive suite as they work out a plan that will: 1) Attempt to save Target’s reputation among gay consumers (and anyone who cares about equal rights); and 2) Logistically counter the effects of backing the PAC that wants to elect Tom Emmer governor. How to do that? Under consideration, we’re told, is a matching donation to HRC.

The Minneapolis-based retailer has been in private talks with the nation’s largest gay-rights advocacy group, Human Rights Campaign, about the possibility of giving the HRC a donation, but it’s unclear whether the company will take action. The group, based in Washington, D.C., has demanded that both Target and Best Buy make an equal or greater contribution to groups supporting gay-rights candidates in Minnesota.

So for now it’s just a possibility. Let this terrible idea never come to fruition.

The problem with giving HRC as much money as the “business-oriented” PAC? Because when Target donated $100,000 in cash and $50,000 in services to MN Forward, it was providing financial sustenance to a group that arguably knows what it’s doing in Minnesota politics and will smartly use its cash on hand to convince the state’s voters they want to put in office somebody who supports marriage discrimination. So what happens if Target hands a check for $150,000 to HRC? They’ll be doing the reverse, providing funds to a Gay Inc. group that’s proven time and again it is useless, unorganized, and ineffective. And there’s no guarantee even a penny would find its way to Minnesota or gay activists there, let alone pro-gay candidates.

HRC might be a not-for-profit, but it stands to walk away the profitable victor in this deal. And once HRC gets its money, you can be sure it’ll e-blast members and issue a statement to the media that Target has done the right thing and we should all forgive them now. Just like Target bought PFLAG’s integrity, such a donation would have Target buying HRC’s seal of approval.

No Target money should go to HRC. If even one penny does, then not one statement from Joe Solmonese & Co. carries any legitimacy, because they are running their mouths for cash. Make no mistake: Solmonese runs a fundraising organization that happens to be tacitly involved in pressuring lawmakers.

And we shouldn’t accept any half-baked compromises either. The Gays forgiving Target should come with a promise from the company to ignore the Citizens United case and get out of funding politics entirely. If HRC doesn’t secure that, it’ll be another example of the group’s innate weaknesses, or at least the inability of anyone to get a mega-corporation like Target to let democracy be — but it’ll certainly end up as an example why HRC doesn’t need more of your money.

Also problematic: The company’s executives’ history of donating to anti-gay candidates and causes; that needs to be addressed.

(Moreover, does it make sense to give money to HRC when the organization is dedicated to federal issues, not state and local races like the one Tom Emmer is involved in?)

If HRC is truly dedicated to helping Target right its wrong, it’ll ensure any matching donation finds its way not to its own bank account, but to a candidate who supports full equality. I’d even be fine with HRC helping choose who that person is.

UPDATE: HRC communications head Fred Sainz emails in: “The post is based upon an incorrect sentence that was run by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The story has been corrected … HRC has always insisted that the harm caused by Target CAN ONLY be repaired by giving to pro-equality candidates or causes in Minnesota. I would respectfully request that you correct the post.”

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