Liberal groups try to exploit backlash against Target for helping anti-gay marriage candidate
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Protesters have been rallying outside Target Corp. or its stores almost daily since the retailer angered gay rights supporters and progressives by giving money to help a conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota. Liberal groups are pushing to make an example of the company, hoping its woes will deter other businesses from putting their corporate funds into elections.
A national gay rights group is negotiating with Target officials, demanding that the firm balance the scale by making comparable donations to benefit candidates it favors. Meanwhile, the controversy is threatening to complicate Target’s business plans in other urban markets. Several city officials in San Francisco, one of the cities where Target hopes to expand, have begun criticizing the company.
“Target is receiving criticism and frustration from their customers because they are doing something wrong, and that should serve absolutely as an example for other companies,” said Ilyse Hogue, director of political advocacy for the liberal group MoveOn.org, which is pressing Target to formally renounce involvement in election campaigns.
But conservative organizations are likely to react harshly if Target makes significant concessions to the left-leaning groups.
The flap has revealed new implications of a recent Supreme Court ruling that appeared to benefit corporations by clearing the way for them to spend company funds directly in elections. Companies taking sides in political campaigns risk alienating customers who back other candidates.
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