February 22, 2011; Source: Los Angeles Times | A new policy that prohibits donations from retail giant Target to be used by trade groups to influence elections or ballot measures has won praise from editorial writers at the Los Angeles Times. The new policy follows scathing criticism and threats of boycotts that gay rights and liberal groups directed at Target for its $150,000 donation to the nonprofit MN Forward, which backed a gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota who opposed same-sex marriage.
As the Times editorial notes, Target's action "shows that consumers and activists can hold corporations accountable for their political participation." It goes on to say that "the new policy suggests that when political spending is made public, shareholders, customers and activists can force a company to alter its priorities in political expenditures."
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That said, the editorial also warns that the same kind of pressure exerted by pro-gay groups could equally be brought to bear on corporations that favor pro-gay candidates. "The boycott is a weapon that can be wielded by all sides of a political controversy."
NPQ joins the Los Angeles Times in applauding Target's move, and also agrees with the editorial writers who suggest other companies pay heed to what happens when they decide to "play politics."—Bruce Trachtenberg