Saturday, July 31, 2010

Target Misses The Mark

It has come to light recently that Target made a large ($100,000+) donation to the organization Minnesota Forward to help fund an ad campaign for Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. (As a side note, it overjoys me as a human being and a word-loving nerd that I have reason to use the word gubernatorial in a sentence. Seriously.)

Who is Tom Emmer and why does this donation piss so many people off? Tom Emmer is a republican. He is against gay marriage and is one of those who has heartily endorsed all efforts to amend the constitution to protect marriage (from what exactly? but I digress...) by declaring it is only between one man and one woman. Emmer has also voted 100% against women's right to choose, believing that life and family trump any other right or circumstance. He supports the NRA and wants to defend the right to own firearms as well as carry concealed. It should also be noted that Emmer supports Arizona's recent illegal immigration policy!

I really can't understand why Target would think this is a good idea. At a minimum, it is massive public relations FAIL and heads (and jobs) should roll for a.) thinking no one would find out and b.) thinking no one would care. Poor judgment all around, boys. Target is not known for being a socially conservative company. In fact, they offer considerations that many companies don't, such as recognizing domestic partnerships when it comes to eligibility for employee benefits. They have also in the past supported Twin Cities Pride (Gay Pride in Minnesota).

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel defends Target's donation and declares their support of the gay community as "unwavering". He sites other things Emmer wants to do as governor, such as create more jobs, support the education system, etc. as Target's reasons for their donation. Really? You couldn't find a candidate to support who doesn't, you know, alienate a huge percentage of your employees and customers with his politics? There isn't anyone else who supports such basic things as creating jobs and funding schools?

Whether or not you agree with Emmer's politics (seriously, if you do, what are you doing here?) is not the only thing to consider here. I don't think Target should be in the business of funding political campaigns for anyone. It's not right for consumer-funded corporations such as retail establishments to take our money and use it to further personal and political agendas. Even though I am not the only person who feels this way, their doing so is legal as ruled by a recent Supreme Court decision (that decision came down 5 to 4, by the way). My biggest problem with that ruling has to do with a magic word: disclosure. 

There is not yet any regulation in place that forces those companies to disclose their donations. In fact, such an effort was recently shot down by a senate vote. What is ridiculous about this is that under current FTC regulations I  have to disclose that I received a free hair dryer to review on The Gloss Menagerie, yet Minnesota Forward is under no obligation to disclose where their money came from, and Target has no obligations to tell us about their donations.


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