Fact Check

Richard Hayne

Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne donated money to Rick Santorum and opposes gay marriage and abortion?

Published March 27, 2012


Claim:   Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne donated money to Rick Santorum and opposes gay marriage and abortion.


TRUE: Richard Hayne has donated money to Rick Santorum.
UNDETERMINED: Richard Hayne personally opposes gay marriage and abortion.

Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, March 2012]

This is Richard Hayne, President and CEO of Urban Outfitters. He's also a supporter of Rick Santorum and donated over $13,000 to him. He's against gay marriage and abortion.

His company pulled a pro-gay shirt back in 08, they also blatantly ripped off an Etsy designers work, featured a t-shirt for women that said "eat less" and most recently had a card with a "tranny" slur on in.

He also owns Anthropologie and Free People.


Origins:   The person pictured above is 64-year-old billionaire Richard Hayne, co-founder of Urban Outfitters, a retail clothing chain which is also the parent company of brands such as Anthropologie, Free People, BHLDN, and Terrain. Hayne is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors, President, and CEO of Urban Outfitters, having taken over the latter role in January 2012 after the resignation of previous CEO Glen Senk.

In a 2003 profile of Richard Hayne, Philadelphia Weekly reported that Hayne had donated money to the re-election campaign of then-Senator Rick Santorum (and current Republican presidential candidate) of Pennsylvania and declined to discuss his own views on homosexuality:

Hayne himself is an ardent Republican. He is a financial supporter of arch conservative Sen. Rick Santorum, whose recent comments about homosexuals equated gay sex with incest and bestiality.

When PW asks Hayne about his financial support of Santorum, he initially denies it. And when presented with a computer printout of Santorum's campaign donors from the Center for Responsive Politics website — which cites a $4,650 contribution from Urban Outfitters — he responds: "I'll have to look into this. I don't think this is right." In fact, he and his wife have contributed $13,150 to Santorum and Santorum's Political Action Committee over the years.

Asked to clarify for the record whether he ever contributed to Santorum's reelection campaign, he counters, "I don't want to mislead you. Like many people, I have some affinity for Rick Santorum, and I have problems with some of his positions."

And where does Santorum's position on homosexuality fit in his comfort zone?

"I'm not going to comment on it," he says, irked. "I have my own opinion, but I am not going to share it. Our job as a business is not to promote a political agenda. That's not what we do. There are all kinds of political views held by my employees. Some would be horrified to learn that we contributed to Santorum's campaign, and others would be fine with it. We openly discuss and joke about our political differences."

Although Richard Hayne has donated money to Rick Santorum (and other Republican politicians), in a 2008 interview Urban Outfitters' then-CEO Glen Senk maintained that Hayne's contributions to Santorum were not reflective of the former's viewpoint regarding homosexuality:

Openly gay Glen Senk, the company's chief executive of business, told Pink Paper: "Urban Outfitters did not make a donation, Dick Hayne did. It was a private donation. His last one was in 2005. Prior to that, it was '98. Santorum made these horrific statements on homosexuality in 2003, and the bulk of the donations were prior to this, so we're only talking about $1,000 after his evil proclamation.

"There is nothing homophobic about Dick Hayne," he continued. "When he made these donations I said to him: 'I'm personally offended by the fact that you would support this guy. If he had his way I'd be in jail'. And he said to me: 'You're right, I hate his views regarding homosexuality, but I'm not a one-issue voter'."

Senk continued: "I'll go on record saying I don't think he should've done it. But, if you're talking about Urban Outfitters, talk about me being the CEO, that I've given the maximum amount of financial backing to Obama, that I supported Dan Anders — one of the first gay judges in America. There is no organisation, that I'm aware of, that is more of a democracy than this company."

  • In December 2008, Urban Outfitters pulled shirts bearing the legend "I Support Same Sex Marriage" from shelves in its California stores (shortly after voters in that state passed a ballot proposition restricting the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples), citing poor sales as the reason.
  • In June 2010, an Urban Outfitters shirt bearing the legend "Eat Less" was pulled from its online store shortly after its release over controversy that it promoted eating disorders and negative body image.
  • In May 2011, Urban Outfitters pulled an "I Heart Destination" necklace line from its online store after jewelry designer Stevie Koerner maintained that it had been copied from her "World/United States of Love" necklace line.
  • In March 2012, Urban Outfitters was the object of protests from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates for selling a greeting card featuring a joke about transvestism.

Additional information:

    Highway Notification Numbers Urban Outfitters: All Its Recent Controversies, Explained

Last updated:   15 September 2014


    Carlyle, Erin.   "Glen Senk Out, Richard Hayne in As Urban Outfitters CEO."

    Forbes.   10 January 2012.

    Clott, Sharon.   "Urban Outfitters Yanks Same-Sex Marriage T-Shirt from Shelves."

    New York.   8 December 2008.

    Flock, Elizabeth.

"Twitter Erupts Over Accusations That Urban Outfitters Copied Designer's Necklace Line."

    The Washington Post.   27 May 2011.

    Valania, Jonathan.   "Clothes Make the Man."

    Philadelphia Weekly   11 June 2003.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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