This Congressman is attacking Black Lives Matter with white nationalist talking points. These companies are supporting him.

Congressman Jim Hagedorn (R-MN) (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In a Facebook post published on June 23, Congressman Jim Hagedorn (R-MN) used white nationalist rhetoric to condemn the Black Lives Matter movement. Hagedorn wrote that the Black Lives Matter movement is “at war with our country, our beliefs and western culture.” He insisted that Americans must oppose the Black Lives Matter movement to defend the nation’s “Judeo-Christian values” and “way of life.” Hagedorn represents a congressional district just 50 minutes south of where a police officer murdered George Floyd in May.

Hagedorn's Facebook post is not an anomaly. He has a history of racist, sexist, and homophobic screeds going back decades. Yet, major corporations that publicly champion racial justice, equality, and inclusion – including UnitedHealth Group, U.S. Bank, Intel, and Best Buy – have donated thousands of dollars to Hagedorn's reelection campaign.

The author of a now-deleted blog, Mr.Conservative, Hagedorn once falsely alleged Democrats committed voter fraud with Indigenous populations. Hagedorn claimed “many of the voters registered for absentee ballots were found to be chiefs and squaws who had returned to the spirit world many moons ago.” He added, “Leave it to liberals to ruin John Wayne’s wisdom of the only good Indian being a dead Indian.” In 2008, he said that if Obama was elected, it would turn America into a “low-budget remake of Eddie Murphy’s hit comedy Coming to America.” 

Hagedorn has also frequently made vulgar sexist and homophobic remarks. He once referred to the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court as an attempt “to fill the bra of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.” Before that, Hagedorn called Washington Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray “undeserving bimbos in tennis shoes.” 

In response to a homophobic ad run against GOP candidate Mike Taylor, Hagedorn wrote, “[T]he ad really bent Taylor over with rage and caused him to go straight to the bar and get lubricated.” He derided the Supreme Court decision of Lawrence v. Texas, which invalidated laws making sex between two consenting adults illegal, as "Lone Star Sodomites v. God and Country,” calling it "an abomination on par with the deviancy it attempted to condone."

Despite this, companies that claim to be committed to racial and social justice are bankrolling Hagedorn’s campaign.

UnitedHealth: $7500 in contributions to Hagedorn

UnitedHealth stresses its commitment to racial justice and combating inequality. "While slavery officially ended more than 150 years ago, there is much work to do; we must acknowledge the realities of the African American experience in order to heal and address the inequities that still exist," Karen Sachs, UnitedHealth's chief inclusion and diversity officer, wrote on Juneteenth. 

The company promotes the importance of LGBTQ equality, proudly publicizing its 100% rating in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2020 Corporate Equality Index.

UnitedHealth recently celebrated International Women's Day and Women's History Month with a special hashtag, #SheInspiresMe, and encouraged it's employees "to recognize women’s unique achievements." 

But UnitedHealth has also donated $7500 to Hagedorn's reelection campaign through its corporate PAC. It sent its most recent donation of $2500 on June 30, 2020. 

The company did not respond to a request for comment. 

U.S. Bank: $5000 in contributions to Hagedorn

After the murder of George Floyd, the Chief Diversity Officer of U.S. Bank, Greg Cunningham, wrote that "company leaders, at all levels, need to be active in denouncing systemic racism and acknowledging privilege." U.S. Bank, which is based in Minneapolis, closed early on Juneteenth. "The events of the past few weeks have changed the conversation and added a sense of urgency that has motivated more people across the globe to act to address social injustice," U.S. Bank CEO Andy Cecere said

The company embraces the LGBTQ community, offering a special Pride-themed debit card. “The card empowers our customers to share their Pride. With every transaction, they send a powerful message in our communities, reaffirming that all people are equal and that our diversity should be celebrated,” Steve Ducos, who runs "LGBTQ+ segment strategy" at U.S. Bank, said

U.S. Bank also touts its commitment to gender equality, touting an award it received for "achieving at least 30 percent female board representation." Cecere said that the board was stronger because of the "caliber of women seated at the table," and he was committed to "accelerating more women into senior leadership and Board positions throughout our organization."

But U.S. Bank also donated $5000 to Hagedorn's reelection campaign through its corporate PAC. It sent its most recent donation of $4000 on May 8, 2020. 

The company did not respond to a request for comment. 

Intel contributed $4000 to Hagedorn, but now is asking for a refund

"Black lives matter. Period. While racism can look very different around the world, one thing that does not look different is that racism of any kind will not be tolerated here at Intel or in our communities," Intel CEO Bob Swan wrote in a company memo on May 31. 

In 2019, urging the Supreme Court to find that LGBTQ people were protected under the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, Intel's General Counsel, Steven Rogers, said that the company's "support of LGBT+ employees remains unparalleled." But, Rogers said, Intel's commitment was not enough. Intel was advocating for "uniform application of this anti-discrimination principle across all 50 states." 

Intel also holds itself out as a champion for women, touting its belief in "women’s empowerment and gender equality." 

But Intel also donated $4000 to Hagedorn's reelection campaign in late-2018. In light of Hagedorn's comments, the company told Popular Information it is asking for its money back:

IntelPAC has not contributed to Rep. Hagedorn since 2018, and will not make future contributions to him. We regularly evaluate our political spending for effectiveness and alignment with Intel’s values as part of our contributions process. In 2019 we added reviews of public statements to our existing reviews of voting records to better assess alignment of contribution recipients with our values. Our prior contribution to Rep. Hagedorn would not have been approved under our current process, and we will ask for the contribution to be refunded.

Best Buy: $2000 in contributions to Hagedorn

In a June 3 letter, Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said that the company "will do better" to address racial injustice. Barry wrote that it “starts with seeing the situation for what it is, acknowledging these experiences for what they are and, quite simply, apologizing for not doing enough"

Best Buy also says it has "a year-round commitment" to LGBTQ equality, touting its 100% on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index for the 15th straight year. The company endorsed "the Equality Act, federal legislation that would add non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people to U.S. civil rights laws."

The company also says that "gender equality is a priority at Best Buy." It is committed to elevating more women to leadership roles because "diversity delivers shared success for our company and communities."

But the company donated $2000 to Hagedorn's reelection campaign. It sent its most recent donation of $1000 on June 11, 2019. 

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Hagedorn's other corporate contributors

General Mills, Boston Scientific, Bayer, and Bank of New York contributed $1000 each to Hagedorn's reelection campaign. All four companies have publicly embraced racial justice, LBGTQ rights, and gender equality. Boston Scientific said it would not contribute to Hagedorn in the future:

We have not made any contributions to Rep. Hagedorn since March 2019 and have no future contributions planned. In May 2019, the Boston Scientific PAC refined its criteria for donations to more clearly reflect our values and began sending a letter outlining those values with every donation. We remain committed to diversity and inclusion in our work to bring meaningful medical innovations to physicians and patients who need them.

The other three companies did not respond to a request for comment. 

UPDATE (7/23, 12 PM): In a statement to Popular Information, United Health Group disavows Hagedorn, calls his statements "egregious and hurtful," and says it will not be contributing to him in the future:

We were unaware of these egregious and hurtful statements attributed to Rep. Hagedorn and they in no way reflect the values of our company. We regret our past contributions, and will not make any future contributions to him.

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