If you thought everyone had gotten over Target‘s $150,000 donation to an anti-gay candidate for public office last year, think again. Yesterday at the retail chain’s annual shareholder meeting in Pittsburgh, CEO Gregg Steinhafel got taken to task over why he put so much money in such questionable hands.
Women’s Wear Daily reports that Steinhafel sounded “embattled and annoyed” when shareholders asked him question after question on a sizeable gift made to MN Forward, a political action group that backed Minnesota’s Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer last year. Emmer ran a family values campaign and staunchly opposed gay marriage and domestic partnerships, which didn’t exactly gel with Target’s self-proclaimed unwavering commitment to the LGBT community. Even though Emmer lost to Democrat Mark Dayton, the company has reexamined its donation policy to make sure future gifts won’t rock the boat. But there’s still evidence to suggest that the company is donating to anti-gay campaigns. Naturally, there were questions:
“Fill us in on the thinking of why Emmer’s positions weren’t thoroughly researched,” said a shareholder. “I don’t understand how you could have such an enormous blind spot.”
“Out of respect for the balance of the shareholders, I think we’ve sufficiently addressed that topic,” Steinhafel said. “We listened, we evolved, we have the right processes. Does anybody have a question related to our business that’s not related to political giving? I’d love to hear a question related to something else.”
But for the most part, Target’s political contribution policy is the only thing its shareholders have cause to be worried about. The chain expects to exceed $100 billion in sales over the next six years, and is ahead of schedule on its plan to open several stores in Canada. Whether they actually make good on their promise to stand by the gay community when all that money starts rolling in remains to be seen.