Shareholders Target Politics

Companies face proxy votes on political actions


Retailer Target was once seen as a paragon of social responsibility. The company offers scholarships and steers 5% of profits to programs in the communities in which its stores are located. As recently as 2008, socially responsible investment firms hailed it as a model business. Then last summer, Target became a target--of a boycott by activists angry that the company contributed $150,000 to Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, known for his opposition to gay marriage.

Target could well find itself facing an embarrassing shareholder resolution seeking a proxy vote on political action at its next annual meeting. If so, it will join as many as 60 major companies, including Wells Fargo, CVS Caremark, 3M and State Street, that are being confronted by shareholders over corporate political activities, says Bruce Freed, president of the Washington, D.C., Center for Political Accountability, which is monitoring and helping to organize such actions.

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