Saturday, April 7, 2018

Coachella Owners Controversial Donations to Anti-LGBT Groups (2018)

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
In July of 2016, an article called “Here they are, the 'enemies of equality’ for LGBT Americans” was posted on The Washington Post that brought to the attention of the public that there is a "vast right-wing conspiracy" to deny LGBT Americans their humanity and dignity. In the article there is an infographic that is linked from a nonprofit organization called Freedom for All Americans (FFAA), which is an organization that was created in the wake of the supreme court legalizing same sex marriage. The aim of the FFAA is to “secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people nationwide in order for everyone to be treated fairly and equally, while trying to do so without allowing overly broad and harmful religious exemptions that will encourage employers, business owners or others to choose to disregard those protections” (FFAA). Emerging coordination of the resistance of non discrimination protection laws is what caused the executive director to go through public filings to dissect the ties that bind anti-LGBT efforts around the country. In the article , they included a chart that showed the organizations who are doing the coordinating and the people leading or bankrolling those efforts. One of the people listed on the chart for donating money to Anti-LGBT groups was the owner of Coachella Music and Art Festival, Phil Anschutz, who is listed as #42 on Forbes U.S billionaires list. According to FFAA’s research, Anschutz donated $110,000 to Alliance Defending Freedom between 2011 and 2013, $50,000 to National Christian Foundation between 2011 and 2013, and $30,000 to Family Research Council between 2010 and 2013. The Alliance Defending Freedom (AFD) is a group that advocates for your right to freely live out your faith, the National Christian Foundation (NCF) is a group that funds a lot of the other groups who are aggressively working to chip away at the equal rights of LGBT Americans, and the Family Research Council (FRC), is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an “extremist group”. The Anschutz Foundation issued a statement denying The Washington Post claims, but in January 2017 reports of Anschutz’s anti-LGBT donations resurfaced, and this time with tax filings that confirmed the alleged donations. Anschutz denied the reports that he is anti-LGBT and also called the reports “Fake News”. He later released a statement saying, “I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation. 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”. Anschutz reportedly added that he and his foundation never fund any group with an eye on anti-LGBTQ initiatives and that “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.”


A stakeholder is any person, organization, social group, or society at large that can be affected by the companies actions or decisions. A stakeholder would usually want the business that they have a stake in to make good decisions since it would affect them positively, opposed to any bad decisions that would affect them negatively. Any negative publicity could affect the way that people look at you and your company, and the way you respond to the negative publicity can make a difference. There are multiple stakeholders who could be affected by the Coachella owners controversial donation to anti-LGBT groups. Stakeholders affected would include the owner of Coachella; Phil Anschutz, who has received negative publicity from many people calling him an anti-LGBT supporter. Employees who work at Coachella might question who they are really working for, and also might question if they want to stand by a a company that has made questionable donations to groups who have negative intentions/motives. Some of the artists performing at Coachella have spoken out about the owners donations, but none of them cancelled their performances because it would put them in a tough position. Anshutz owned or operated the venues that accounted for 61 percent of ticket sales world wide in quarter 3 of 2016, so getting on his bad side could negatively affect their music careers.

Friedman's individualist perspective states that "the only goal of business is to profit, so the only obligation that the business person has is to maximize profits for the owner or the stakeholders" (Salazar 17). The donations that Anschutz gave to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the National Christian Foundation, and the Family Research Council don't seem like affective ways to maximize his own profits in any way, shape, or form. The only thing I really see Anschutz getting out of the donations he made is bad publicity, which could negatively affect the sales and long-term success of larger established businesses, such as the businesses that he owns. Anschutz and his business have received a lot of criticism from the LGBT community, which could definitely result in LGBT supporters refusing to purchase tickets to events hosted by the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG).

The donations made by Anschutz and the Anschutz Foundation would be considered unethical by an individualist, not because of how they affect stakeholders but because of the way if affects Anschutz businesses. Friedman's perspective on individualism 'forcefully' argued that "businesses should not attempt to be socially responsible. Spending money on resources, employees, and donations to causes is wrong because it is essentially stealing from the owner" (Salazar 17). From Friedman's perspective of individualism, Anschutz is essentially stealing money from himself, and to stack on top of that, the donations he made aren't even giving him a good reputation.

From a utilitarian perspective, this case would be considered unethical because of the way it negatively affects the stakeholders, in particular the LGBT community as a whole. Utilitarianism is considered a stakeholders approach, which states that "the main goal for a business should be to maximize the happiness of all conscious beings int the long run that are affected by the businesses actions" (Salazar 19). Anschutz and his donations that were made to multiple anti-LGBT groups probably did not sit well with the LGBT community. These anti-LGBT groups that he donated to are attempting to take away the equal rights that the LGBT community has worked to get for years.

A utilitarian would also tell you that "the primary values of a business should be pleasure, the absence of pain, and even the satisfaction of desires" (Salazar 19). So again, from a utilitarian perspective, this case would be unethical because of the pain and lack of pleasure caused to the LGBT community, and even to Anschutz himself. I include Anschutz because from the articles posted, he does not seem pleased with how he's been bombarded with questions, or with how hes been called an anti-LGBT supporter. This case is also unethical from a utilitarian perspective because of Anschutz's lack of awareness for how the donations would affect stakeholders, and the consequences that come with it. Even if he and his organizations truly didn't know that the groups they were donating to had anti-LGBT ties, they still could have avoided the situation if they did some extensive research into them.

Phil Anschutz


"Kantianism does not make decisions based on consequences, but rather on what Kant calls 'Goodwill'" (Salazar 21). Therefor from a kantian perspective, this case would most likely be considered ethical since we don't know if Anschutz made the donations out of goodwill. Since there is no proof of him knowing beforehand that the groups he was donating to were anti-LGBT, we would have to assume he was doing it out of goodwill. The IRS allows businesses to deduct deduct certain charitable donations from their taxes, so that instead of a business having to pay money to the government, they can give it to other causes in need of the money. Donating money to charitable organizations doesn't completely exempt you from being required to pay taxes, but it can relieve some of the money you have to pay back to the government. Anschutz could have very well been attempting to donate money in order to minimize his tax bills.

Kantianism also states that we should "always act in ways that respect and honor individuals and their choices" (Salazar 22). Since we are supposed to respect and honor individuals and their choices, then we would have to respect the fact that Anschutz and organization were trying to donate money to organizations in need instead of just giving it to the government. They didn't have to donate anything at all, so the fact that they were donating thousands of dollars to groups in need is pretty respectable, especially when you exempt the fact that the organizations have anti-LGBT ties. From a kantian perspective we have to respect the fact that Anschutz and his organization might have really been unaware of the groups anti-LGBT ties. We  would also have to respect that he immediately ceased all contributions to such groups once it came to their attention that those groups were supporting such causes.

Virtue Theory
The outcome of the action is irrelevant to a virtue theorist. Instead, they look at how the person or organizations actions reflect who they are. They also believe that one should "act so as to embody a variety of virtuous character traits or good character traits and so as to avoid vicious or bad character traits" (Salazar). Some virtuous traits include honesty, leadership, trustworthiness, and compassion. Anschutz and his organization showed some good character traits during the controversy that I believe would make a virtue theorist consider them as ethical.

After news broke out that Anschutz had donated money to charitable organizations that have anti-LGBT ties, he made sure to release a few statements to the public in order to clear things up. One statement released stated "I support the rights of all people and oppose discrimination and intolerance against the LGBTQ community... I regret if any money given to charity for other purposes may have indirectly worked against these values" (Taylor). Leadership and compassion are important character traits that Anschutz was able to show when he released the statement regarding the controversy. When he stated that he regrets if any of the money he donated was used for anti-LGBT purposes, he showed that he has some sort of compassion for the people he has hurt. It also hinted that he doesn't want the public to think that he's a bad man, and that he wantt to prove the opposite. Anschutz showed leadership because of the way he addressed the issue, instead of never responding to it. He also showed leadership by saying he'd make sure it never happens again, which means he must be taking some sort of action to make sure of that.

Works Cited

About Freedom For All Americans | Freedom For All Americans. Freedom For All Americans,
Capehart, Jonathan. “Opinion | Here They Are, the 'Enemies of Equality' for LGBT Americans.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 7 July 2016, .

ESPINOZA, J. Coachella Owner Says He Is No Longer Giving Money To Anti-LGBTQ Groups. Complex, .
Hogan, M. Coachella’s Controversial Owner: What You Need To Know | Pitchfork.
Taylor, A. Is Cara right about Coachella being ‘anti-LGBT? | BBC. .

ThingLink. “Enemies of Equality by Erik Maulbetsch.” ThingLink,

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