Target Corp. has apologized for donating to a Minnesota political action committee that backed a GOP gubernatorial candidate who opposes marriage equality.
In an Aug. 5 letter to employees, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel wrote, "I have heard from many of you, and our team members, over the past week regarding Target's contribution to MN Forward, and I appreciate your engagement and candor, both of which clearly demonstrate your loyalty and passion for our company.
"In situations like this, it is often difficult to find the right words, but I would like to respond with the same honesty you have shown me.
"The intent of our political contribution to MN Forward was to support economic growth and job creation. While I firmly believe that a business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future, I realize our decision affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry.
"We remain fully committed to fostering an environment that supports and respects the rights and beliefs of all individuals. The diversity of our team is an important aspect of our unique culture and our success as a company, and we did not mean to disappoint you, our team or our valued guests.
"Going forward, we will soon begin a strategic review and analysis of our decision-making process for financial contributions in the public policy arena. And later this fall, Target will take a leadership role in bringing together a group of companies and partner organizations for a dialogue focused on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including GLBT issues.
"Thank you for sharing your input and for your continued commitment to making Target an even stronger company."
Windy City Times reported that MN Forward, a business community-backed political action group, received $100,000 in cash and $50,000 in in-kind contributions from Target. MN Forward has run ads in the state supporting state Republican Rep. Tom Emmer. Emmer, who is likely to grab the GOP nomination for governor, is against marriage equality and leveling the playing field for LGBTs in areas of discrimination in housing, the workplace, immigration and healthcare.
In a statement, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said, "Target has been a champion for workplace equality for many years. That's why their recent donation to MN Forward was so at odds with their sterling reputation as a great employer for LGBT people. The fact that their political contribution was used to advance an anti-equality candidate was extremely hurtful to all fair-minded Americans.
"We appreciate Mr. Steinhafel's statement to company employees this afternoon but it doesn't go quite far enough. Target's apology is welcomed but without tangible action behind it, the LGBT community and our allies will continue to question the company's commitment to equality.
"The promise to evaluate political contributions in the future, while a step in the right direction, is provided without details and does not mitigate their $150,000 supporting an outspoken opponent of equality for LGBT people. Target can still make it right by making equivalent contributions to equality-minded organizations and by making clear the procedure by which they will evaluate potential contributions in the future to include issues of LGBT-equality."