Saturday, August 21, 2010

Target: You Need to Make This Right

About a month ago, The Awl--a political/social commentary blog run by two former Gawker editors--did a piece on Minnesota House of Representatives member Thomas Earl Emmer Jr.
"Called 'Minnesota's most conservative GOP gubernatorial candidate in decades,' it's no surprise he likes to play with guns ... he introduced the Firearms Freedom Act, exempting Minnesotans from federal rules or regulations on their arsenals ...

Emmer wants to cut government services by at least 20 percent ... He authored bill HR857, which mandated drug screening for Minnesota Family Investments [Welfare] Program eligibility ...

But he can be fun too. Emmer also authored bill HF1131, which greenlights surgical or 'chemical' castration of sex offenders. ... Most eye-opening is Emmer's support of an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that makes way for federal laws to be ignored at the discretion of the state."
Go here to read the entire Awl post. It's downright scary.

I'm assuming it's Emmer's pro-business stance, not his social agenda, that made Target donate $150,000 in hard and soft money to the candidate's campaign to be the next governor of Minnesota. Best Buy contributed $100,000.

Some customers of Target took offense. Especially the gay and lesbian community and the unions.

Then they took action.

I don't know what I liked more: the flash mob's homage to the Village People or the conga line.

Readers of this blog know I'm not a fan of Wal-Mart. However, I have been a huge fan of Target. I just checked the receipt/budget file on my computer. In the last six months, I've spent slightly under $1,000 at Target.

No more.

Target, you need to make this right. I appreciate that your CEO Gregg Steinhafel wrote a letter of apology on August 5 to your employees. I also watched a video that read portions of Mr. Steinhafel's apology here. Be aware the last minute and a half of this video is blatantly promotional:

The Young Turks advertising aside, the apology wasn't enough. Target needs to find a better solution than mere words to make this right.

And not a sneaky or slimy solution like giving $150,000 to all of Emmer's opponents to split among the group.

A real solution.

And this thing isn't going away. Yesterday the Los Angeles Times reported here that:
A few Target Corp. and Best Buy Co. institutional shareholders weighed in Thursday on the flap over the companies' political donations in Minnesota, urging the boards of both retailers to increase their oversight of campaign contributions ...

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 ball is in your court, Target. As hard as it will be, I won't set foot in any of your stores until you fix this.


Gina Black said...

What if only registered voters were allowed to make campaign contributions? Companies and unions and special interests can't vote (though the members can). I'd like to see politics wrestled out of the hands of business. That wouldn't do it, but it might help.

Maya Reynolds said...

Gina: I agree with you completely. The Supreme Court screwed up in their decision this year to permit corporations to make political donations. Only voters should be permitted to make donations.

Note the reference to that in the protest song sung in Target: "Now Roberts and Alito had the ultimate scheme; Turn corporate cash to free speech, their Supreme wet dream."

The Raven said...

Target's also anti-union, and probably almost as hard on their suppliers and employees as Wal-Mart. The bottom the bottom line. They achieve their low prices by abusing people who can't fight back.


Maya Reynolds said...

Raven: Yeah, it's no accident they decided to donate to Emmer.