News \

Coachella Owner, Who Donated to Anti-Gay Causes as Recently as 2014, Dismisses Criticism as “Fake News”

This week, the internet revisited old criticisms of Philip Anschutz, owner of AEG, a media conglomerate whose holdings include the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Anschutz is a conservative Christian, and for years his Anschutz Foundation donated to organizations that line up with right-wing views, including opposition to gay marriage and climate change denial. The organization Freedom For All Americans named Anschutz alongside more recognizable anti-gay figures like Kim Davis and Tony Perkins as an “enemy of equality” in a report back in July of last year.

Anschutz is a hugely wealthy entrepreneur, and his views have ben known for years–AEG is second only to Live Nation in live music promotion, and it also owns the L.A. Kings and the L.A. Galaxy. The criticism against him reared its head again this week because Coachella announced its 2017 lineup on Tuesday. Now, Anschutz is dismissing the claims that he is anti-gay as “garbage” and “fake news.” Read his statement below via Billboard:

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.

Both The Anschutz Foundation and I contribute to numerous organizations that pursue a wide range of causes.  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.

Unfortunately for Anschutz, his charitable donations are a matter of public record. The most recent available IRS filing for the Anschutz foundation covers the 2014 fiscal year, and as Billboard points out, it includes a $10,000 grant to the Family Research Council, whose entire raison d’être is opposition to gay rights, abortion, and divorce. SPIN also found contributions to Promise Keepers, a ministry that only allows men as members and whose founder once called gay people “an abomination against almighty God,” and to The Navigators, an evangelical organization that referred to homsexuality as “sexual brokenness” in a 2013 publication.

Anschutz’s statement claimed that the foundation “immediately ceased all contributions to such groups” when it found out a group it supported was anti-LGBTQ. And because records of donations more recent than 2014 aren’t yet available, that claim is difficult to fact check. It’s possible that Anschutz somehow didn’t realize until a few years ago that the Family Research Council, which the SPLC calls “the most important anti-gay lobby in this country,” was in fact anti-gay, but it’s pretty hard to believe.