Sweatshop retailer funds anti-gay and pro-gay politicians, so it’s all good, says spokesperson
A few days ago The BEAST broke the story that J.C. Penney, despite a very public claim to “share values” with their openly gay spokesperson Ellen DeGeneres, contributes to anti-gay politicians through its PAC. Well, in response to a media inquiry, the folks over at J.C. Penney have offered us this bizarre statement:
jcpenney does not make corporate contributions to candidates for elected office. PenneyPAC, which is funded by the voluntary contributions of jcpenney management associates, makes contributions to election campaigns, predominantly those of candidates for Congress.
OK, that’s what I said.
PenneyPAC does not engage in partisan politics. Since its establishment in 1976, it has made contributions, without regard to party affiliation, based on the candidate’s support of jcpenney’s position on issues central to the company’s core business operations to protect or advance our interests for the benefit of our stakeholders. Current jcpenney priorities, supported by PenneyPAC contributions, include an initiative to remove the unfair loophole that allows online retailers to avoid collecting sales taxes to the disadvantage of brick & mortar retailers, as well as issues related to removing barriers to free international trade for the benefit of American importers and exporters, their workers and their customers.
Translation: We only contributed to Republicans 80% of the time because they’re more likely to tax online commerce and not give a shit when our sweatshop factories in Bangladesh burst into flames and burn people alive. It’s not partisan!
In 2009-2010, the last completed congressional election cycle, PenneyPAC made contributions, ranging from $500 to $2,500 and totaling $91,700, to 76 candidates for Congress. In addition to the three candidates you inquired about, PenneyPAC also gave to the following candidates who have consistently supported gay marriage and gay rights: Representatives Dennis Cardoza (CA), Russ Carnahan (MO), Mary Bono Mack (CA), Carolyn McCarthy (NY), Charles Gonzalez (TX), Allyson Schwartz (PA), Howard Berman (CA), Joe Crowley (NY), Rueben Hinojosa (TX), Ron Kind (WI), John Larson (CT), Sandy Levin (MI), and Carolyn Maloney (NY), and Senators Patty Murray (WA) and Ron Wyden (OR).
Translation: During the last congressional election cycle, we contributed to 45 Republicans, but you only mentioned 3, so whatever. We also donated to 29 Democrats, and some of them aren’t giant assholes! But remember, we’re only contributing to these Democrats because they’re more likely to tax online commerce and not give a shit when our sweatshop factories in Bangladesh burst into flames and burn people alive. It’s not partisan. It looks like we did something positive by supporting gay rights advocates, but it’s a total coincidence!
Over the course of the last 10 years, IACPAC, the political action committee at IAC, the owner of The Daily Beast, contributed to no fewer than 39 of the congressional candidates on both sides of the aisle also supported by PenneyPAC during the same period. IACPAC’s contributions, like those of PenneyPAC, are a matter of public record.
Lol. What? I told them I was from The BEAST and provided a link to The BEAST article, but they think I’m with The Daily Beast. It’s a simple enough mistake, I guess. Anyway, what’s remarkable about this last paragraph is the veiled threat — to Barry Diller and Tina Brown.
The unnamed author of the email went through the trouble of researching The Daily Beast and digging into the campaign contributions of its parent company — which the author forebodingly reminds us is public information. Kind of hilarious, imo. They must have been eating turd over there, thinking that that Beast was running a series on their conflicting corporate ethics. That’s probably the only reason they responded. If they realized this story has zero legs, they’d have just left it writhing quietly on the floor to die.
I reached out to a few different lefty news sites, and the general consensus was that the hypocrisy just wasn’t expensive enough to warrant coverage. Admittedly, by political spending standards, PennyPAC is rather insignificant. But that’s kind of like saying it’s OK to stomp on a small amount of puppies. Or something.
The feel-good narrative that a corporation did a decent thing is a powerful one. It tells a nice story of progress. It evokes emotion. An emotionally charged piece of information is potent and quickly transmitted. It makes for good news. A true piece of information, not that emotion and truth are mutually exclusive, is in the world of corporate politics usually pretty boring. It’s pure calculation, with no moral story. It makes for boring news. Well, the boring piece of news here is that J.C. Penney’s financial support of anti-gay politicians is total coincidence. They offer low level bribes across the aisle to any potential legislator who will tax online commerce and not give a shit when their sweatshop factories in Bangladesh burst into flames and burn people alive.
And that’s not inspiring news. That’s just how our democracy works.