In July 2016, Philip Anschutz — owner of the Coachella music and arts festival held annually in California’s Coachella Valley — was among those listed as “enemies of equality” by an infographic listing prominent individuals who have made major contributions to anti-LGBT groups.
We examined some of the tax filings from the Anschutz Foundation and found that the organization did indeed donate to these groups between 2010 and 2013. In fact, the foundation donated to the Alliance Defending Freedom and the National Christian Foundation as recently as 2015.
Anschutz told Rolling Stone that reports labeling him anti-LGBT are “fake news” and that neither the organization nor himself have ever made donations with the intention of funding anti-LGBTQ initiatives. Anschutz also said that the foundation no longer donates to the aforementioned groups:
“Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news – it is all garbage,” he wrote. “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.”
He also claimed to endorse foundations that supported gay and lesbian rights. “Both the Anschutz Foundation and I contribute to numerous organizations that pursue a wide range of causes,” he wrote. “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.”
Asked about giving to those specific groups, a rep for Anschutz said, “We have immediately ceased all contributions to such groups.”
Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans, said that Anschutz’ statement was a step in the right direction:
It’s encouraging to see that even those who’ve funded groups opposed to LGBT equality in the past are willing to change their views and come around to opposing discrimination. We appreciate the willingness of Philip Anschutz and the Anschutz Foundation take steps to ensure that their resources are no longer used to undermine protections for LGBT Americans.
An attorney at Hogan Lovells, a law firm that represents Anschutz Entertainment Group, confirmed to Pitchfork that the Anschutz Foundation stopped contributing to these groups after 2015.
The donations to anti-LGBT groups made up a small part of the Anschutz Foundation’s charitable contributions. In 2016, the organization, which aims to provide funds to groups that help “economically disadvantaged, children & youth, seniors and the disabled,” awarded 336 grants totaling $2,468,384. The group has also awarded at least one grant, a $7,500 donation in 2014, to a group that works to protect LGBT youth, the Colorado Anti-Violence Program.