Gold’s Gym CEO Funds ‘Virulently Anti-Gay’ Candidates, Backlash Ensues

October 26, 2010

(ChattahBox Political News)—Texas billionaire Robert Rowling, the CEO of TRT Holdings that owns Gold’s Gym, is feeling some heat for his $2 million donation to Karl Rove’s right-wing attack group American Crossroads. Members of the LGBT community are up in arms that Rowling’s donation is being used to help a number of Republican anti-gay candidates become elected. An online petition condemning the donation has appeared at and the owner of a group of Bay Area Gold’s Gyms announced he intends to disassociate from the Gold’s brand. The online petition, already boasting over 2,000 signatures, says Rowling’s “money has been used to support some of the most virulently anti-gay politicians in the country,” and the petition demands “an official response from Gold’s Gym about the anti-gay political donations of one of its senior executives.”

You will recall the uproar that ensued after Target and Best Buy donated to the conservative group MN Forward that supported an anti-gay Republican candidate. Target later apologized after calls for a boycott.

Now, Gold’s Gym, a company that is known for marketing to the LGBT community finds itself in the same quandary. highlights Crossroads’ donations to the extremist senatorial candidate Sharron Angle.

“Robert Rowling, the CEO of TRT Holdings (the owners of Gold’s Gym), is spending quite a bit of money this election cycle. Using both his corporate and personal bank accounts, Rowling has given upwards of $2 million to Karl Rove’s new organization, American Crossroads. In turn, that money has been used to support some of the most virulently anti-gay politicians in the country.”

“These politicians include Nevada’s Sharron Angle, who once said that gay people should be banned from adopting children and that homosexuality would lead to the downfall of the United States, and Roy Blunt, who wants to rewrite the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage.”

Don Dickerson, the director of operations for Gold’s Gym Bay Area, posted a missive on the company’s Facebook page pledging to dump the Gold’s brand.

“Gold’s Gym San Francisco has long been a pillar of the gay community. We will continue to be. It is very unfortunate that the CEO of TRT holdings has chosen this course of action. We do not support it in any way,” writes Dickerson. […]

“Our contractual obligation with Gold’s Gym expires on September 15th, 2012 and on or prior to that date (our legal counsel is reviewing our options) we will leave the Gold’s Gym brand. It is a major initiative to create a new brand and leave Gold’s Gym which has been our identity for over 20 years but we will begin that process today.”

Gold’s Gym International released a statement denying that Gold’s Gym donated to homophobic candidates, seeking to distance itself from Rowling’s $2 million donation, calling it a “private donation.”

“Gold’s Gym did not make a donation to American Crossroads (or any other political organization) and in no way supports anti-gay causes. Quite the contrary, the Gold’s Gym family has been strong supporters of the LGBT community over the years. This includes supporting PRIDE events, sponsoring LGBT media outlets and donating to various LGBT charities in the communities we serve.”

“Gold’s Gym is a non-political organization and our member’s dues are not used to fund political candidates. Bob Rowling, the CEO of our ownership group, TRT Holdings, made a private donation completely independent from (and not on behalf of) Gold’s Gym.”

This type of backlash from consumers is precisely why corporations want to keep donations to shadowy right-wing causes secret.

And it’s why customers and shareholders have a right to know what nefarious causes are being secretly funded by corporate profits.

Photo Source:Wikimedia/KudzuVine/Public Domain


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