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On Wednesday, we reported on Coachella owner Phil Anschutz’s large donations to anti-LGBTQ hate groups. Now Anschutz and his foundation have responded, calling the original reports “fake news” and “garbage.” Rolling Stone reports:
[Anschutz] … claimed to endorse foundations that supported gay and lesbian rights.
“Neither I nor the [Anschutz] Foundation fund any organization with the purpose or expectation that it would finance anti-LGBTQ initiatives, and when it has come to my attention or the attention of the Anschutz Foundation that certain organizations either the Foundation or I have funded have been supporting such causes, we have immediately ceased all contributions to such groups.”
Asked about giving to those specific groups, a rep for Anschutz said, “We have immediately ceased all contributions to such groups.”
The responses raise several interesting questions:
When exactly did the Anschutz Foundation stop donating to anti-LGBTQ organizations?
The original report of his foundation’s anti-LGBTQ donations came out in July 2016, but only showed donations from 2010 to 2013. So when the Anschutz Foundation representative said, “We have immediately ceased all contributions to such groups,” when exactly was “immediately”? In 2013? In 2016? Two days ago?
Why did they donate to anti-LGBTQ for four years before stopping?
Anschutz said that his foundation stopped funding anti-LGBTQ groups as soon as they became aware of it. But the Southern Poverty Law Center declared the Family Research Council (FRC) as a hate group in 2010; that means that Anschutz only started donating to them after they became a certified hate group.
Furthermore, two of these groups (the FRC and Alliance Defending Freedom) spend a great deal of time focused on anti-LGBTQ work, so it’s hard to believe that he and his foundation cluelessly funded them for nearly half a decade before realizing what they stood for. If they were that clueless about their funding then, why should we think they know any better now?
Coachella’s artists and attendees should also be angered that their love of music was used to fund hate, especially considering how many LGBTQ artists and allies have graced their festival.
What pro-LGBTQ organizations do they “endorse”?
While Anschutz claims to endorse pro-LGBTQ foundations, he fails to name them; something that would certainly help restore his image. And what does “endorse” mean anyway? If his endorsements don’t match the $190,000 his foundation gave to anti-LGBTQ groups, then his “endorsement” is meaningless.
Is Anschutz still a climate change denialist?
Uproxx’s report on Anschutz’s bad dealings mentioned that “Anschutz uses his media properties like the Washington Examiner to push far-right talking points like climate change denial.” Considering that nearly 97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is man-made, and those who disagree usually benefit from fossil fuel companies, Coachella attendees might like to know his foundation’s stance and his media properties’ editorial stance on climate change.
Will the Anschutz Foundation let journalists confirm their founder’s claims?
Thus far, no media outlet has confirmed either of Mr. Anschutz’s claims. If he really wants this story to go away, he should share his foundation’s donations from 2013 onward so we can have a clear record of whom he supports and the social causes funded by all that sweet Coachella money.