August 03, 2010
Target's Political Giving is Not New
There's been a lot of attention paid to Target's donation to MN Forward, in light of CU. But it is worth noting that this is not simply a post-CU development. I was reminded of that on Sunday, when I made this presentation at the 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy. I was discussing how it is wrong to think of ballot measures and candidate elections as entirely distinct, pointing to the prevalence of candidate-controlled ballot measure committees in California, and noting the major donations to Gov. Schwarzenegger's California Recovery Team. Target is listed on one my my slides as giving $200,000 to that effort. (That was not the biggest donation by a long shot---other donors, including corporate donors, went as high as $750,000. My research supporting these numbers appears in this law review article.)
Here you can see Target's 2003-04 contributions in California, which exceeded $500,000 for the period. Candidate campaigns received small donations, most around $1,000. The big money went to ballot measure committees, and the medium money went to party committees--mostly Republican, but some Democrat. (More money went to the Democrats, about $60,000, in 2007-08.) It will be interesting to see if the amounts of money Target spends on/contributes to candidate elections goes up in California.