A citywide elected official in New York, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, joined with the hard-left MoveOn.org at a protest outside a Brooklyn Target store to complain about the company's political spending, the Village Voice reports.
FutureOfCapitalism reader-participant-watchdog-content co-creator-community member A. forwards an e-mail from Mr. de Blasio's communication's director, Matt Wing:
For a retailer that prides itself on being socially responsible, Target is throwing its money behind some troubling political causes. That makes them our first "Outrage of the Week"—our way of shining a light on the worst cases of companies distorting our political process under the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling.
Just last month, we learned that Target donated $150,000 to a group supporting right-wing candidate Tom Emmer for Governor of Minnesota. Emmer is a fierce opponent of same-sex marriage and a big booster of Arizona's new immigration laws. In the past, he even introduced a law that would result in sex offenders being chemically castrated.
On Tuesday, our office teamed up with MoveOn.org to protest Target's election spending right in front of the retailer's flagship store in Brooklyn. We had a simple message: hands off our democracy.
The Associated Press weighs in on the issue with a news report today: "A Facebook page urging 'Boycott Target Until They Cease Funding Anti-Gay Politics' has more than 54,000 fans. A page declaring 'I will NOT Boycott Target for supporting a Conservative candidate' has a little more than 400 fans."
Mr. de Blasio is also targeting Google for a pressure campaign related to its political spending. (Disclosure: I own some Google stock.)
The whole thing is a good illustration of why national laws banning corporations from engaging in political speech are not only unconstitutional, they are unnecessary. Market forces (those 54,000 Facebook fans angry at Target) provide a powerful restraint themselves on corporate political spending. And Mr. de Blasio's behavior provides an excellent example of why Target or Google should be free to spend money to defend their business interests against politicians who have the power of the government and its press megaphone to use against them. Mr. de Blasio says he is trying to get companies to pledge not to engage in political spending, but his own behavior is likely only to convince companies that they need to be able to spend money to protect themselves against dangerous politicians like him.