Coachella's co-owner Philip Anschutz, the owner of the festival's organizer Goldenvoice and the owner of the entertainment compant AEG, has long been known to be tied to right-wing causes. And this year is proving no exception: a new report from Pitchforkfinds Anschutz has continued donating to right-wing, anti-LGBTQ hate groups despite public uproar at his companies' highly problematic charitable ties.
In July 2016, it was reported by LGBTQ rights organization Freedom For All Americans that Anschutz had donated $190,000 to anti-gay hate groups between the years of 2010 and 2013--this included the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council (at which Trump spoke during a convention last year), and the National Christian Foundation.
After public backlash to Anschutz' affiliations with these hate groups, the festival owner released this statement: "Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news--it is all garbage. I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation."
He also stopped donating to the three previously mentioned organizations--though Pitchfork's new findings reveal he's still supporting plenty of other companies with anti-LGBTQ rhetoric embedded in their very mission statements. Examples include Dare 2 Share Ministries, whose CEO posted on the site in a 2008 blog post: "Homosexuality is a Satanic perversion of God's gift of sex." Another is the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, whose owner said on Fox & Friendsthat the LGBTQ Pride flag and the Confederate flag "represent the exact same thing." Others with explicitly anti-gay language on record include Young Life, The Navigators, and the MovieGuide Awards.
Responding to Pitchfork's new report today, Anschutz' team said:
"One year ago we stated publicly that we unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation. We stand by those words and reaffirm the commitment we made at that time that The Anschutz Foundation would not knowingly fund any organization that would support anti-LGBTQ initiatives.
Over the past year, the Foundation has stopped funding certain organizations after it was brought to our attention that some of their activities were inconsistent with our values. This is an ongoing process in which we continue to investigate the organizations that we support, as some of these groups may have initiatives that extend beyond the scope of the objectives sought by the Foundation in supporting them. We are proud of the progress we have made in this regard, but there is always room for improvement to ensure the charitable giving of the Foundation does not unintentionally extend to groups that violate principles that are important to us. The Foundation receives requests for donations from thousands of organizations every year and donates to approximately 800 entities annually. If our systems have failed to identify some activities that we do not support, we will stop funding those organizations as we learn more.
On occasion, it has been brought to our attention that certain groups previously supported by the Foundation may have policies or practices relating to the LGBTQ community that could be of concern. In those situations, we carefully assess the concerns to determine if in fact any organization we have supported is taking positions or practicing policies that are intolerant of, or discriminatory toward, the LGBTQ community. If we find problematic activities, we first look to work with those organizations to effectuate positive change if we perceive they are open to hearing and responding to our feedback. Ultimately, if these efforts prove unsatisfactory, we will withdraw further support from those groups."