After losing $12 billion, Target faces demands for documents in potential prelude to a shareholder lawsuit

Could Target's woke executives finally be made to pay attention?

They might, given that they've been issued legal demands from a shareholder to produce all documents related to its woke transgender agenda.

According to America First Legal, a group that is led by Stephen Miller, a former member of the Trump White House:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, America First Legal (AFL), on behalf of its client, the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), served the Target Corporation with a formal demand for the production of corporate books and records, seeking transparency regarding its management's radical LGBT political agenda that has apparently cost the corporation over $12 billion in market valuation since mid-May 2023. NCPPR is a Target shareholder.

Target's 2022 annual report acknowledges that the corporation's core customer base is made up of "families." It further recognizes the serious risk to Target's company's financial prospects if that core customer base sours on the corporation: "Our continued success is dependent on positive perceptions of Target which, if eroded, could adversely affect our business and our relationships with our guests and team members." 

Nevertheless, the evidence is that Target's management has recklessly bent the knee to the radical left. Serving "stakeholders," not shareholders, Target's management has:

  • Donated millions to "GLSEN," an organization that "Promotes LGBT Activism in Schools." Among other things, GLSEN's mission includes undermining parents' federal and state constitutional and statutory rights by directing public schools to withhold "any information that may reveal a student's gender identity to others, including [to] parents or guardians." Target's management apparently supports this mission because funding GLSEN is knowingly, or with reckless disregard, subsidizing GLSEN's policy of violating parents' rights and promoting secret gender transitions for kids.
  • Target's website currently lists over 100 products under the category "LGBT Pride: Kids' Clothing," which are often modeled by very young children and almost always feature themes designed to attract and interest them, like rainbow Mickey Mouse symbols. These products include LGBT-themed onesies, bibs, and overalls aimed at newborn babies and toddlers, and "tuck-friendly" bathing suits marketed towards "transgender women."
  • Target also knowingly stocked merchandise by "Satanist-Inspired" brand Abprallen for its pride collection. Abprallen is known for designs that glorify violence, such as designs showing the phrases "We Bash Back" with a heart-shaped mace in the trans-flag colors, "Transphobe Collector" with a skull, and 'Homophobe Headrest' with skulls beside a pastel guillotine.

The formal demand hits Target at all the weak points of its wokester activity — its odd donations to GLSEN, whose agenda is, to say the least, controversial, and where one of its executives serves as a board member and foundation officer of the group in what appears to be a conflict of interest; the curious focus on children for the LGBT merchandise that Target promotes — how much customer demand was there for it, given that, anecdotally speaking, there was lot of it on its clearance racks, and did the company lose money on those products, and if so, how much, and why did it ramp up its stocking of it even more?  Lastly, there was the hiring of a Satanist to design products, who put Satanist themes into the product line, such as images of Bahomet alongside wokester messages.  Did that square with this company's stated values, and if not, why was that guy there?  Target has its choice of designers, after all, so maybe some explaining is in order.

It matters because it's cost the company $12 billion in shareholder value, affecting 401(k)s, investor portfolios, profits, employee compensation, and company prospects.  The company's stock fell from $74 billion to $62 billion in just two weeks, which is a lot of money for an agenda that the public is not embracing.

America First Legal noted that Target's reputational value has fallen sharply, too.  Why exactly did a company with a sterling reputation among investors suddenly turn itself into a company whose name stinks?

Company officers are expected to guard shareholder value and deliver profits to those who own its stock, so the request for documents can shed a lot of light about what was going on in that company and why it blundered so badly at its basic duties.

Target and its Board of Directors have failed to uphold their fiduciary duties and should be prepared to explain to their shareholders exactly why they put ideology over shareholder interests. 

Executives with that kind of underperformance are normally fired.  These guys cling on.

What's more, this sort of controversy over politics and ideology isn't a new experience for Target.

Once upon a time, Target avoided this kind of baleful political activity to protect its shareholders.  As recently as 2007, it pulled its stock of Che Guevara merchandise from its store shelves after Cuban-Americans vowed to boycott its products for promoting the image of a mass murderer.

Target acted quickly to make things right, pulling the merchandise and apologizing for the error, averting a consumer boycott immediately.  (I wrote about that here and here).

Now they double down on their errors despite the losses it creates, hoping that maintaining the good graces of the radical groups that "grade" them and award them their DIE approval status will be better than any considerations of shareholder value.

In a normal world, executives that irresponsible would be fired by their shareholders and sent packing.

Maybe this lawsuit, if it comes, will be the start of this natural dynamic for executives who place shareholder value second to winning wokesterly accolades.

They don't listen otherwise.

Image: Screen shot, America First Legal, fair use.

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