Through a pyramid of financial holdings, Philip Anschutz, the 77-year-old Colorado billionaire businessman, owns Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and AEG Live, the world’s No. 2 live-event promoter, which operates Goldenvoice, the company that launched Coachella in 1999.
The Freedom for All Americans campaign revealed in 2016 that Anschutz (worth $13 billion!) donated big bucks to anti LGBTQ groups like;
• Alliance Defending Freedom – An American conservative Christian nonprofit organization with the stated goal of advocating, training, and funding on the issues of “religious freedom, sanctity of life, and marriage and family.”
• The National Christian Foundation – “Funds a lot of the groups aggressively working to chip away at the equal rights of LGBT Americans.”
• The Family Research Council – On its website that it “believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large,” has been deemed an “extremist group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In January, Pitchfork reviewed the Anschutz Foundation’s annual tax filings from December 2015 through November 2016. According to them,
“This newly uncovered filing shows that in 2016, the Anschutz Foundation stopped giving to the three groups at the center of the original uproar: Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council, and National Christian Foundation. But they did give to a number of other organizations that have a history of making anti-LGBTQ statements.”
These organizations reportedly included Dare 2 Share Ministries and Young Life, a youth ministry that proclaimed in a 2017 policy that people shouldn’t volunteer at the organization who were
“sexually active outside of a heterosexual marriage relationship.”
ProgressNow Colorado’s executive director, Ian Silverii said,
“Phil Anschutz’s extensive influence in Colorado politics has been known for years, but the degree of his support for anti-LGBTQ groups that fund extremist hate groups like Gordon Kligenschmitt’s ‘Pray in Jesus Name’ is shocking. At a time in American history when discrimination and violence against LGBTQ citizens is on the rise, support for pro-discrimination groups puts Anschutz on the wrong side of Colorado, and on the wrong side of history.”
Last year, Afropunk published a blog post urging would-be Coachella-goers to think twice before selling their shoes to see their fave acts. In response to Coachella’s lineup, the post warned,
“The lineup boasts names like Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé, Black music royalty more than deserving of our hype, but Coachella’s owner is a whole different story. To add insult to injury, Greenpeace notes that media companies owned by Anschutz figure prominently in the denial of climate science and the promotion of climate-change skepticism.”
The pressure to #BoycottCoachella got so serious that Anschutz released a statement, insisting that,
“Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news—it is all garbage. 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……
Neither I nor the 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.”
The bad PR of posts like these must have gotten to Anschutz. According to The Fader, he announced this week that he’s donating $1 million to Elton John’s AIDS Foundation‘s LGBT Fund
“My gift to the Elton John Foundation is intended to emphasize that we support freedom of all people to live their lives peacefully, without interference from others.“
But those reviewed tax filings revealed donations to “dozens” of conservative and libertarian organizations too:
“They include Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of the industrialist Koch brothers; the Federalist Society, the conservative legal network that Trump has given an unprecedented role in picking federal judges, and NumbersUSA Education & Research, which calls itself an ‘immigration-reduction organization.’”
The Fader also reported that in 2017 Anschutz gave
“Close to $200,000 to Republican politicians and Super PACs.”
Beneficiaries of Anschutz’s generosity allegedly included Paul Ryan and Mike Coffman, a member of the House who has previously made birther comments about President Obama.
Speaking of harshing your buzz, Anschutz is also anti-marijuana. According to Freedom Leaf, a pro-legalization mag, Anschutz has donated “thousands of dollars” to anti-drug groups in 2016 alone,
“The Anschutz Foundation donated $50,000 to SAM Inc., and another $110,000 to its partner organization, Smart Colorado. It gave another $50,000 to Smart Colorado in 2015. The goal was to counter the impact of Amendment 64, the recreational-marijuana legalization initiative the state’s voters passed in 2012.”
Recreational marijuana is legal in California, but Coachella is staunch that at the festival or on the camp grounds,
“No Drugs or Drug Paraphernalia, Marijuana, Marijuana products will be allowed.”
Model and actress Cara Delevingne has hit out at Coachella’s owner for being “anti-LGBT” too. She tried to clarify her love for Beyoncé’s performance and hatred of the festival,
“I am able to shame that man and the festival and show my appreciation of an artist at the same time. Just because I love Beyoncé doesn’t mean I now love Coachella. I still wouldn’t go.”
It’s not a stated fact that Anschutz is a Republican (but he most certainly is) but ignoring party affiliation, his politics DO NOT align with Coachella’s many festivalgoers, to say nothing of its performers. So, if you ask me, going to Coachella contributes to this billionaire getting even richer and bolsters his conservative views and undermines LGBTQ and minorities’ rights.
(Photos, Wikimedia Commons, Instagram; via Daily Beast)