After weeks of protests and negative publicity following its financial support of an anti-gay Republican Minnesota gubernatorial candidate, major institutional shareholders are demanding Target Corporation and Best Buy revamp its donation process. Target gave $150,000 and Best Buy $100,000 to the right-wing MN Forward PAC that supported Minnesota State Rep. Tom Emmer, who is against gay rights, anti-LGBT non-discrimination bans and marriage equality.
Walden Asset Management and Trillium Asset Management Corp., both of Boston, and Bethesda, Md.-based Calvert Asset Management Co. filed shareholder resolutions with both companies. Together, the three firms control less than 1 percent of each company's outstanding shares — 1.1 million Target shares worth $57.5 million and 344,000 Best Buy shares worth $11.3 million — but they are moving the debate over the political giving to a new arena. "A good corporate political contribution policy should prevent the kind of debacle Target and Best Buy walked into," said Trillium vice president Shelley Alpern. "We expect companies to evaluate candidates based upon the range of their positions — not simply one area — and assess whether they are in alignment with their core values. But these companies' policies are clearly lacking that."
The Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Los Angeles Times also analyze the debate, quoting the shareholders groups and state pension leaders. The giant New York state pension funds, "which currently holds 3.8 million shares in Target with a market value of $283 million" and union investment managers and are considering co-signing the resolution, reports the LA Times.
Meanwhile: Target has refused to donate to pro-gay candidates to make amends for its $150,000 donation to Emmer. Also this week: MSNBC has refused to air MoveOn.org’s advert calling for a boycott of Target over the fiasco. "The advocacy group had purchased a week of airtime in Minneapolis and nationally on MSNBC," reports the Minnesota Independent. "MSNBC and its parent, General Electric...stat[ed] the spot doesn’t 'comply with NBC’s ‘Controversial Issue Advertising policy,’ because the ad is a direct attack on an individual business.' In fact, the ad referenced 'Target and other corporations.'"
Can't offend their major advertisers, right? Watch the ad WHEN YOU JUMP ...