Somewhere in Minneapolis right now, a room full of public relations honchos are rubbing their foreheads. If an anti-gay political donation and a boycott wasn’t enough, a look into Target’s corporate president and two vice presidents just made things worse.
The retail giant went from Tar-gay to Tar-sorry last week when CEO Gregg Steinhafel told employees that Republican candidate Tom Emmer supported “our business objectives” more so than gay-friendly former Target executive Mark Dayton, then tried to back-track with an ill-worded apology.
Gay employees and consumers launched an offensive calling for boycotts. A national “no shopping” day of protest is set for this weekend, Aug. 14 and Aug. 15.
How, mutter the PR department, could this get worse? We know, put an enterprising reporter at The Awl on it. With pro-gay rights Dayton out and running for office, background checks on Steinhafel, his executive vice president and general counsel Timothy Baer, and his new VP of government affairs Matt Zabel—who was hired in July and will now be in charge of opening political donation purse strings—are renewing the fervor against the once beloved big box store.
Just as the damage was done for Target, or so they thought, it turns out that Target’s beef with gay equality goes beyond the $150,000 it gave to the Pro-Emmer MN Forward fund.
From The Awl:
The executive vice president and general counsel also happen to be the same person, Timothy Baer. Baer’s personal giving history? Thousands to Erik Paulson, Mitch McConnell, John Kline and the anti-gay rights Freedom First PAC—and, of course, Norm Coleman.
To be fair, back in 2006, Baer gave $250 to pro-gay rights candidate Ember Junge.
New Government Affairs VP Zabel is a former staffer for Sen. John Thune, the South Dakota senator who supported a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and sought to outlaw gay adoption.
That’s not all. For his part, Steinhafel sent his daughter to Wheaton College, a Christian institution where being gay will get you expelled. The younger Steinhafel also studied with the Focus On the Family Institute, a leading proponent of “ex-gay” or “curative” therapy for homosexuality.
When the Awl asked Steinhafel directly whether he personally supports the legalization of gay marriage, this response came back from the PR shop: “Unfortunately, we are unable to address the points or the questions in your e-mail to Mr. Steinhafel.”
We know you’re tired, people. But that’s not good PR either. On the other hand, perhaps keeping Steinhafel’s mouth shut is better than him sticking his foot in it—again.
And you thought last year’s profit margins were bad, Steinhafel. Can you say “How to go from Tar-gay to Tar-fucked in three easy steps?” We thought you could.