Target Stung by Political Donations

Now that corporations have fewer limits on their ability to donate cash to political causes, Target has dipped its toe into a campaign, only to find it bitten. The Minneapolis retailer gave $150,000 to a group that supports pro-business candidates in Michigan races, including a gubernatorial candidate opposed to gay marriage. Hundreds of protesters showed up outside Target stores around the country Friday, and 240,000 people signed a petition promising to boycott. Target CEO Greg Steinhafel apologized to employees in a letter Thursday, saying the company’s decision to try to promote growth “affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry.” In January, the Supreme Court relaxed restrictions on corporate and union involvement in elections; they can now buy ads explicitly supporting or opposing a candidate with company money. But corporations are still reluctant to get drawn into political fights, fearing damage to their reputation if they support a loser.