Attorneys general in several Republican-led states warned Target that “pride” displays and LGBT items at stores could create legal issues for the retail giant, running afoul of child-protection laws in some jurisdictions.
Led by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, seven attorneys general wrote that the store’s “June Pride” collection could be “potentially harmful to minors” and said that the economic interests of shareholders could suffer due to ensuing boycotts. What’s more, they argued that the items could raise concerns about state child protection or parental rights laws.
“As Attorneys General committed to enforcing our States’ child-protection and parental-rights laws and our States’ economic interests as Target shareholders, we are concerned by recent events involving the company’s ‘Pride’ campaign,” the officials wrote in a letter to Target CEO Brian Cornell.
“Our concerns entail the company’s promotion and sale of potentially harmful products to minors, related potential interference with parental authority in matters of sex and gender identity, and possible violation of fiduciary duties by the company’s directors and officers.”
The letter did not indicate what steps the attorneys general might take in their respective states. The letter to Mr. Cornell was signed by Mr. Rokita as well as attorneys general from Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and South Carolina.
After unveiling its “pride month” collection earlier this year, Target drew significant backlash from consumers after conservative influencers on social media highlighted some of the products that were being sold before the company announced that it would be removing some items. LGBT-themed books, baby clothes, and toys were being sold under the retailer’s June promotion, according to its website.
Some users on social media also made note of a “tuck-friendly” swimsuit that was apparently intended for biological males who claim to be transgender women. Target later released a statement to several news outlets saying the item was not being sold for children, only adults.
As the controversy ensued in mid-May, Target Corp.’s shares dropped. On May 16, Target’s shares stood at around $160, but by May 31, it was $130.
Mr. Rokita’s letter noted that Target may have acted in a political manner that put its shareholders at risk.
“Losses of this magnitude—caused by isolating Target’s core customers—raise concerns that Target’s board and management may have acted negligently,” the letter stated. “Further evidence suggests Target’s leadership may have acted on collateral interests. Directors and officers must act solely in the best interest of the company.”
Previously, Mr. Cornell has defended the LGBT-friendly merchandise by saying that selling them at Target is “the right thing for society.”
This week, Target was again in conservatives’ crosshairs after Fox News host Mark Levin claimed Target informed his publisher, Simon & Schuster, that it won’t sell his book critical of Democrats and President Joe Biden’s administration. 19. The book is titled, “The Democrat Party Hates America,” and is slated to be released Sept. 19.
“It claims that certain customers might be offended by the title. Imagine that! So, the corporatist leftwing censorship begins,” Mr. Levin wrote.
However, Target issued a statement to several news outlets saying that Levin’s statement appears to be premature.
“We’ve been offering this book for pre-sale since mid-June. As we have with Mark Levin’s past books, many of which are currently available for sale at Target, we’ll offer his newest title for sale when it is available on September 19,” a spokesperson for Target said. “The use of the word ‘hate’ in the title caused our team to reach out to the publisher, but as stated, we are continuing to offer this book for pre-sale now, and it will be available for sale on its release date. We regret any confusion this situation caused.”
Following Target’s statement, Mr. Levin suggested Target “reversed course” due to pressure from users on Twitter.
“You folks are an immense force for free speech and market capitalism, and conservative authors and audiences everywhere will benefit from your patriotism,” he wrote. “I could not be more proud of you—not only for how this specific case turned out, as there will undoubtedly be more of this—but because you’ve made it clear that you’ve had enough and will exercise your enormous power.”
The Epoch Times contacted Target for comment on Thursday. The Minneapolis-based chain has not issued a public response.
Target’s woes come on the heels of a monthslong boycott targeting Bud Light after the light beer brand offered promotional materials to a transgender social media activist. Recent data shows Bud Light’s sales have dropped year-over-year for many consecutive weeks, starting in early April, while May’s data shows that Modelo Especial overtook Bud Light as the No. 1 beer in the United States.
In the meantime, Bud Light has offered a promotional rebate worth $15 for the Fourth of July weekend on certain 15-packs of Bud Light and Budweiser, meaning that the company is essentially giving free beer away in some areas.