The billionaire owner of AEG and Goldenvoice, which produces the annual Coachella music festival, spent $437,000 in 2017 on conservative candidates, some who have supported anti-LGBT positions in the past.
Unlike his past political contributions to groups designated as extremist hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Anschutz’s political spending in 2017 mostly went to Republican candidates and several conservative political action committees.
According to the Federal Election Commission, Anschutz made a $125,000 donation to a fundraising committee for House Speaker Paul Ryan and a $125,000 donation to Republican Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, who is running for reelection in 2018. Gardner previously expressed opposition to gay marriage — in response to the October 2014 announcement from the U.S. Supreme Court allowing same-sex marriage to become the law in 30 states including Colorado, Gardner reaffirmed his anti-gay marriage stance but stated, “This issue is in the hands of the courts and we must honor their legal decisions.”
Anschutz also made donations to Republican Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer and Republican House of Representatives congressmen Mike Coffman and Scott Tipton of Colorado. Fischer was given a score of 0 out of the 100 by Human Rights Campaign, which ranks candidates for their support of LGBT equality issues like gay marriage and repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (a score of 0 meaning no support for pro-LGBT legislation, while 100 represents total support.) Coffman scored 38 while Tipton scored 30. Read the report here.
Anschutz also donated $5,000 to Common Values, a conservative political action committee dedicated to electing candidates to the Senate, as well as groups like Project West and Prosperity Action Inc. He gave about $100,000 to the National Republican Senate Committee and $33,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Since 1997, Anschutz has made more than $1 million in donations to mostly conservative causes and candidates. Last year, Anschutz came under scrutiny for his political donations to anti-LGBT groups and was identified by LGBT-advocacy group Freedom for All Americans as an “Enemy of Equality” for making contributions to groups like Alliance Defending Freedom between 2011 and 2013, which pushed out pre-worded bills against LGBTQ citizens to state legislatures. In July 2016, One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for LGBT Coloradans accused Anschutz of “support for pro-discrimination groups” that put Anschutz “on the wrong side of Colorado, and on the wrong side of history.”
Anschutz issued a lengthy statement calling the claims “garbage” and “fake news.”
“I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation,” he said in a statement. “We are fortunate to employ a wealth of diverse individuals throughout our family of companies, all of whom are important to us – the only criteria on which they are judged is the quality of their job performance; we do not tolerate discrimination in any form.”