The head of the Target Corporation is now taking the amazing step of apologizing for the company’s financial support of Tom Emmer, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor in the company’s home state of Minnesota, after coming under fire from gay rights activists.
And in a further sign of how tricky corporate political spending can actually be in practice in the post-Citizens United world, the company will also set up a review process for any future political donations.
As we noted last week, Target donated $150,000 to MN Forward, a business-backed group that is running ads for Emmer, focused on economic issues. This was made possible because of the Citizens United decision from the U.S. Supreme Court this past January, which opened the door for corporations to directly spend big money on political campaigns.
The company was facing a backlash from some consumers and activists in this liberal state, however, due to Emmer’s support for a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and his close associations with the religious right. And now, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel has written a letter to employees, apologizing for the company’s involvement.
“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,” wrote Steinhafel, also adding: “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.”