With just a video posting on Youtube, the progressive organization called MoveOn.org has garnered almost three hundred thousand signatures from people all across the country angry at Target's recent political donations to a gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota who has openly opposed gay marriage and workers unions. The video itself has already been seen by over half a million people.
Meanwhile, MoveOn.org has also taken out a television commercial against the retail giant, which has aired on CBS, NBC, and ABC. Cable news outlet MSNBC refused to air the ad saying that it violated their policy of singling out any single commercial enterprise.
The furor began when MoveOn obtained information on a campaign contribution of $150,000 made by Target and it's affiliate stores BestBuy, to Minnesota candidate for Governor Tom Emmer, who opposes not only gay marriage, but civil unions and any sort of legal standing for long time same sex couples, as well as his pro business, anti-union stance. Among some of the more interesting positions of Mr. Emmer's campaign are his advocacy for the elimination of the Department of Education, repeal of the recently passed Health Care Reform Act, and his desire to extend the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy.
Some of Target's bigger investors have expressed concern and outrage over the growing controversy. Walden Asset Management, Trillium Asset Management Corp., and Calvert Asset Management Co. have sent official resolutions of concern to Target Headquarters reading in part "A good corporate political contribution policy should prevent the kind of debacle Target and Best Buy walked into. 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."
Target has long tried to present a public image of being a good neighbor. They have had a same sex domestic partner benefits package for some time now, as well as funding local school and environmental initiatives. This has led to the current backlash, with many accusing the retail giant of corporate hypocrisy.
Seen by many as the beginning of the fallout stemming from the recent pro-corporate ruling by the United States Supreme Court that allows for unlimited corporate spending in elections, even New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has weighed in as the trustee to Target's pension fund. Saying "Target should have carefully considered the implications that direct political contributions can have toward shareholder value," Mr. DiNapoli added, "It's troubling to think that they can fund controversial candidates without properly assessing the risks and rewards involved."
MoveOn.org has said that they will press ahead with their boycott plans until Target renounces their contribution to Mr. Emmer's campaign and stays out of the political arena altogether.