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BREAKING: HRC, DELL, Viacom’s Political Contributions to Anti-Gay Marriage Candidates

Senator Cornyn’s plan to become Senate leader!

By: C.D. Kirven, Contributing Writer & LGBT Activist; 09-08-10

The battle for control of the House and Senate will be decided in 56 days. A common conversation among activists’ circles is that LGBT rights groups have two months to make something happen.  A huge development on the GOP front is the perceived hijacking of the gay civil rights mantra and Tony Podesta throwing his political weight behind Senator John Cornyn.  Mr. Podesta is one of the most connected political players in Washington. His brother, John, became President Bill Clinton‘s Chief of Staff in 1998 until 2001. But, an unholy alliance has been form between Tony Podesta’s powerful lobbying firm and Texas Senator John Cornyn. The goal to use Podesta’s political muscle and big business connections to ensure Senator Cornyn becomes the senate majority leader.

I know you’ve heard about Ken Melhman’s announcement that he is gay. The new surge of Gay Republicans is no accident and Senator Cornyn’s attendance at the Log Cabin Republican’s 2010 National Dinner and Liberty Education Forum Symposium is proof the Republicans will do anything reclaim control.  Joe Solomose, president of the Human Rights Campaign, recently went on record to defend Melhman; “The past is the past. We certainly don’t have the luxury at this point in our movement to turn away any offer of help.” But, Mr. Solomense was reluctant to confront Target’s $150,000 donation to a group supporting an antigay political candidate. But, after anger directed at his organization from the LGBT blogosphere, he changed his tone by stating: “If their initial contribution was a slap in the face, their refusal to make it right is a punch in the gut, and that’s not something that we will soon forget.”

The HRC hasn’t historically been known for making tremendous progress on LGBT legislation and is why I was suspicious about the HRC’s support of Target, Hyatt & Bestbuy boycotts. I hoped if they were talking the talk then surely they were they walking the walk.  I began to wonder about the identities of the candidates who benefit from Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) PAC contributions. What about PAC donations by companies rated 100% by the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI)? I decided to investigate and was very surprised by my findings.

HRC’s PAC has donated thousands to House Republicans over the years. They’ve given political contributions to Mark Kirk, Deborah Pryce & Mark Foley’s campaigns.

Recipients Year HRC Rating Donation Amount
Rep. Mark Kirk 2006 76% $6000
Rep. Mark Foley 2006 75% $2,000
Rep. Deborah Pryce 2006 38% $2,525

Link to check out HRC PAC donations:

HRC has sworn to support candidate’s who support full equality for LGBT citizens and have gone on record with various media outlets to discontinue financially supporting Rep. Mark Kirk but the LGBT non-profit continued to contribute to his campaign. (Below shows a $2,000 contribution in 2010)

Who is watching the watchdog? Rep. Mark Kirk’s opponent Alexi Giannoulias supports full marriage equality. So, why is the HRC financially supporting Rep. Kirk who only supports civil unions when Mr. Giannoulias supports gay marriage?

Is it fair for the LGBT community to boycott Target, BestBuy or Hyatt because of political affiliations when LGBT organizations donate to anti-gay marriage candidates? Why does the HRC continue to finically support a candidate who continues to vote against repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

 Rep. Kirk voted against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal amendment. My question to the LGBT community….will the HRC make it right?

I have an even more disturbing question, has the HRC avoided incorporating company PAC contributions as a part of their corporate index because of their own anti-gay marriage contributions?

I began to question the purpose of the HRC’s CEI. I decided to do a little more investigating by researching the companies with 100% CEI score. Below are the results of my investigation:

Dell’s PAC – Political Donations:

 Rep. Virginia Foxx – $2500 contribution (She believes Matthew Sheppard’s murder was a hoax and not a hate crime)
 Rep. Lamar Smith – $19,746 contribution (He recently drafted amendment to condemn reversal of Prop 8 and plans to introduce legislation in Texas to define marriage as between a man and a woman)

Viacom Inc. PAC (Parent Company of LOGO Television) – Political Donations:

 Rep. Lamar Smith – $6,000 contribution
 Rep. Chuck Grassley – $4,500 contribution (A member of Family D.C. – a group that supported Uganda anti-gay bill)
 Rep. Joe Barton – $3,000 contribution (Opposes gay marriage a DADT repeal)

The above contributions are not one-time incidents but are business as usual most LGBT ally corporations. Google, American Airlines, Bank of America and others are also giving PAC contributions to anti-gay marriage candidates. Why are we boycotting Target & BestBuy?

Mr. Solomonese made the above statement in an article by the titled “HRC: Target Talks Break Down,” on August 16, 2010 regarding HRC’s efforts to convince Target to remedy its donation to MN Forward. Solomense also stated:

“Two of our most trusted brands have contributed shareholder money that could help elect a candidate that wants nothing but the worst for us. Both companies talk about this contribution as a business decision. I would offer that it’s a really bad business decision. Both companies have now earned the bad will of LGBT people and fair-minded Americans. They need to make it right.”

I guess HRC’s anti-gay marriage contributions are simply a bad business decision but as a representative of the LGBT community the organization should commit to upholding the standards they ask others to uphold. I believe the LGBT community needs an independent oversight board monitoring PAC contributions similar to Tea Party’s PAC monitoring groups.

I also believe the HRC needs to update their index to include political giving by companies considering free enterprise’s new political voice and its resulting impacts on LGBT citizens.

In no big surprise, Senator Cornyn’s committee has raised $4.4 million from individuals and political action committees. The Podesta Group’s donation hopes to assist the Senator Cornyn in his aspirations of expanding his role as a leader of the GOP. When explaining the Podesta Group’s interest in Senator Cornyn’s campaign, CEO Kimberley Fritts, the former southern political director for the Republican National Committee, she explained the company wants to; “Expand our Republican reach.”

Senator Cornyn has his eyes on the prize which is replacing the current Republican National Chairman Michael Steele in hopes of securing big business interests in congress and with the help of Gay Republicans hopes to secure a Republican president in 2012. I don’t know about you but they have to think I’m extremely naive to believe that any Texas Republican cares about any issues impacting LGBT middle class citizens. For over 8 years, we were ignored by Republicans and trashed by Mr. Melhman. If the HRC or the Republican Party think for one minute we will be pushed back in the closet so they can win a class war then they are the naive ones. I’m going to fight to be free to love, defend my country and support my family as an open lesbian American. So, go ahead and celebrate at your HRC or Log Cabin Republican parties with tables filled with caviar plates and $200 dollar champagne bottles. Pop one open for freedom!

Join me in demanding the HRC makes this right! Sign the petition below urging the HRC to add company PAC contributions to its equality index and to stop giving anti-gay marriage candidates LGBT money.

Link to petition:

Activist – C.D. Kirven is a Lambda Literary nominated Author of the book – “What Goes Around Comes Back Around”, Board member of DFW Pride Movement, Artist – Her artwork was shown at Butch Voices Conference in Oakland, CA, Art will be in November issue of Curve magazine & C. D. Kirven created the first GLBT cell phone documentary about same sex intimate partner abuse. She has an online clothing line at & is editing her online reality show about her life called: “SOULPRINT”. Ms. Kirven is currently working on a play, her second book “The Glass Closet” & a documentary.
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7 Responses to BREAKING: HRC, DELL, Viacom’s Political Contributions to Anti-Gay Marriage Candidates

  1. C.D. Kirven

    September 9, 2010 at 12:25 am

    The link issues I believe has been resolved and happy to the discussion which I hoped would happen. The amounts seem small but consider like stated in article that those donations have gone on for years. I hope everyone draws there own conclusions and my hope is that if we ask the community to boycott then hopefully we are not doing it ourselves. Also, I live in Texas and have experienced Senator Cornyn’s very low tolerance for LGBT issues. It’s really about empowering ourselves with knowledge of leadership activities. Knowledge is power!

  2. Dan

    September 8, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    I think a watchdog group would be a good idea. However, this article doesn’t make a great case for one. I agree with Eric that we need more investigation – and a fuller presentation.

    All three of the contributions by HRC are from 2006. The article mentions a $2,000 contribution to Mark Kirk in 2010 and says it’s listed “below,” but I didn’t find it listed. Is that the only contribution HRC made to a Republican in 2010? How does it compare to their contributions to Democrats?

    The other contributions are from Dell and Viacom. Only Dell’s contribution to Lamar Smith is of any size. Now, Smith does misleading push polls and supports discrimination. There’s no question that he’s bad, bad, bad. But again, how does Dell’s $19,746 contribution compare to its Democratic contributions?

    Target donated $250,000 that Target donated to Emmer’s PAC, and Best Buy gave $150,000 to the same group. So far, the amounts shown above look pretty small, and the article doesn’t give us anything to compare them to. What is HRC’s overall influence on the parties, and on gay issues? What’s the influence of Dell and Viacom?

    We’re in need of more information. Among other things, the financial industry is breaking heavily in favor of Republicans. I would like to see an investigation of them. Dell could be small potatos compared to JP Morgan Chase.

  3. Charlotte

    September 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    You know this really doesn’t surprise me. Even though they own LOGO.
    I’ve dealt with them professionally & personally & I always felt any real
    forward thinking people are the first to be fired there…..

  4. SarasNavel

    September 8, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Thank you for this frustrating and sad post. We need to start organizing in order to let corporations including HRC and the others mentioned that we will *only* support those that have proven they fully support us. We also need to invoke the support of our allies and friends in pushing this message. Imagine a coalition of groups pushing for equality -who could we get onboard?

    “The new surge of Gay Republicans is no accident and Senator Cornyn’s attendance at the Log Cabin Republican’s 2010 National Dinner and Liberty Education Forum Symposium is proof the Republicans will do anything reclaim control.”

    –or is it proof that some wealthy Gays will do anything to gain personal acceptance, power and more wealth under the assumption that the Republicans will be the majority soon?

    Finally, I again very much appreciate the issue that you have raised but I have a thought regarding the course of action:

    “You know the biggest problem with getting a bunch of signatures on a petition that tells a CEO to do something? Getting them to read it.”

  5. Eric

    September 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I think this is an interesting topic to think about. We definitely need a watchdog group to keep the equality organizations in check, however I really wish more investigation had taken place before writing this article. I don’t think we should bash an organization before we know all the facts.

    What if there were 2 candidates running against each other in an ultra conservative town? Candidate A supports a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, adoption rights, and the passing of the Employment Discrimination Act; however they believe in civil unions as opposed to same-sex marriage. Candidate B is very anti-gay and thinks we should keep DADT and is definitely against ENDA, adoption rights, hospital visitation rights, same-sex marriage, and domestic partnerships. Candidate A does not support 100% equality, but Candidate B would take our community backwards.

    We need to know the reason’s why these organizations supported these candidates. Maybe the one they donated to was the lesser of two evils. It’s true that we may need to stand up against these groups, but I can’t support that without having all the facts. I feel that this article only told part of the story. Awesome work on uncovering that the donations were made to these candidates. Please take the next step and find out why.

  6. Elizabeth

    September 8, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    The bottom of the article says to sign a petition below, but there is no petition! Great writing and research, thank you so much for doing it!

  7. Allan

    September 8, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I’m not surprised about Dell, but what the F*** are you doing HRC!