If it’s hard to keep track of which companies you should be supporting and why, we don’t have great news for you. The CEO of “no frills” gym chain Planet Fitness donated to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
According to disclosures from the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission, Chris Rondeau gave over $1,200 to Trump’s election campaign in two installments: one in February 2016 and the second in July 2016. The latter donation was made the same month that Trump was named the GOP nominee — and also urged Russia to hack into Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Although he has not yet given to Trump’s 2020 bid, Rondeau also donated to the 2018 Congressional campaign of former New Hampshire State Senator Andy Sanborn, one of the body’s most staunchly conservative members.
During his time as a state lawmaker, Sanborn opposed a bill banning anti-LGBTQ+ conversion therapy across the state. He also voted against legislation to update New Hampshire’s existing civil rights laws to ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity in areas like housing and employment; the state has banned sexual orientation bias since 1998. Both of the pro-LGBTQ+ bills passed anyway.
Coincidentally, the U.S. House seat Sanborn lost eventually went to Chris Pappas, New Hampshire’s first openly gay Congressman.
Trump’s history on LGBTQ+ rights is fairly similar. Since taking office in January 2017, his administration has rolled back protections for transgender students in schools, barred most trans troops from serving openly in the military, furthered policies that allow people of faith to refuse service to LGBTQ+ folks on the basis of religion, and called to legalize firing people for being LGBTQ+.
According to the national media watchdog GLAAD, the Trump White House has been responsible for 127 attacks on the LGBTQ+ community in just 21 months.
The anti-equality actions of both candidates that Rondeau backed is particularly relevant because the company he oversees has been a vocal supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. Two years after Rondeau was appointed CEO, Planet Fitness announced that it would allow trans customers to use whichever locker room and changing room most closely corresponds with their gender identity.
That policy has been met with some blowback since it was rolled out in 2015. The company is currently being sued by a Michigan customer whose membership was terminated after she complained about the presence of a transgender woman in the locker room.
The Michigan Supreme Court allowed the case to move forward in April after it was thrown out by lower courts.
Even as the case proceeds through the court systems, Planet Fitness has continued to market itself as an inclusive, LGBTQ+ friendly gym, calling itself a “judgment-free zone.” On its website, the chain says it is “here to provide a workout environment in which anyone — and everyone — can be comfortable.”
Out has reached out to Planet Fitness for comment on Rondeau’s donations and will update this story should the company respond. However, the company isn’t the only fitness chain with ties to the president: Earlier this year, SoulCycle and Equinox faced boycotts around the U.S. when one of its parent company’s board members, Stephen Ross, hosted a fundraiser for Trump that raised nearly $13 million.