Target CEO apologizes, Common Cause pushes Target towards clean elections

By Jon Collins
Thursday, August 05, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Gregg Steinhafel, Photo: Target Corporation

After weeks of controversy, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel sent employees a letter apologizing for the company’s $150,000 donation to MN Forward, a group backing Republican candidate Tom Emmer, which drew fire from gay rights supporters due to anti-gay stances.

Steinhafel wrote that the company was sorry for unintended impacts the donations might have had on people. He said the company will conduct a “strategic review and analysis of our decision-making process for financial contributions in the public policy arena.”

“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.”

The apology comes after weeks of criticism for the company, including threats to boycott, and growing opposition from other Emmer opponents.

Common Cause of Minnesota, a group that just last week pushed companies to make commitments that they wouldn’t meddle in elections, renewed their focus on the company, with Common Cause Executive Director Mike Dean urging Target to commit to the organization’s clean election pledge:

“Target’s apology is a good first step, but it needs to commit to not making future political expenditures…As a good corporate citizen, Target should invest in our community rather than the politics that divide it.”

The apology wasn’t enough for the group Boycott Arizona Minnesota (BAM!), which is sticking with its plans to protest a South Minneapolis Target store this afternoon. “Sorry doesn’t cut it! We want action,” the group wrote on its Facebook page. “[N]o real steps to correct the situation have taken place. It’s not out of the ordinary for a political [contributor] to ask for a contribution to be returned.”

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