3M Jumps onto Citizens United Bandwagon

| Mon Sep. 27, 2010 11:24 AM EDT

When Target and Best Buy decided to take advantage of the new political spending rules under Citizens United, they were wading into uncharted territory—and ended up stirring a tremendous backlash as a result. Another Minnesota-based corporation, 3M, has witnessed the fallout over Target and Best Buy's Citizens United-empowered donations, but the company has decided take the plunge anyway. The Minnesota Independent reports that the paper products giant has donated $100,000 to an independent group, Minnesota Forward, to run ads supporting conservative Minnesota candidates for state office.

Over the summer, Target and Best Buy came under fire from progressive activists for making contributions to the same group: both retail giants had developed a reputation as LGBT-friendly companies, and activists branded them as hypocrites for funding ads that supported GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, an opponent of gay rights and gay marriage. The Minnesota Independent explains that 3M has a similarly positive track record with the gay community, receiving 100 percent ratings on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index. But the company has apparently decided that the donation was worth the risk of potential blowback.

What's more, there are signs that activists might be less inclined to raise the same ruckus with 3M, according to the Independent.:

[s]o far, response from progressive organizations has been muted compared to the reaction against Target’s donation. Some have called for boycotts, and a petition was started on Change.org, though it has only garnered around 200 signatures at the time this article was posted….A spokesperson for the HRC said the organization reached out to 3M to inquire about the donation; HRC declined to comment until 3M responds. MoveOn did not respond to the Minnesota Independent’s request for comment.

There are some signs that corporations are, in fact, thinking twice about whether to take advantage of Citizens United. But while some have vowed restraint, there are growing signs that others are clamoring on board. And if the backlash is indeed waning, the stigma of embracing the Supreme Court ruling is likely wear off, and heavy corporate involvement in political ads could become the new norm.