Published Jan 05, 2017Sure, it's easy to be dazzled by the lineup for Coachella 2017, but some critics have been quick to point out that beneath the flower crown-adorned veneer of the festival there's an anti-gay, climate change-denying billionaire named Philip Anschutz.
As the name implies, he owns Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which is the largest sports teams, events and venues conglomerate in the world. In addition to owning a bunch of Major League Soccer teams and operating venues like the Staples Center and O2 Arena, AEG also bought Los Angeles-based promoter Goldenvoice back in 2001 — the company responsible for promoting Coachella.
That's not the only place Anschutz's money is flowing to, though. According to research from Freedom for All Americans [via the Washington Post], the business owner has donated hefty sums to right-wing, anti-LGBTQ groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom, the National Christian Foundation and the Family Research Council.
According to a 2012 New Yorker article, Anschutz is a major donor to the Republican Party and has made monetary contributions to the Institute for American Values and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, as well as filing a lawsuit in Upstate New York to reverse a fracking ban. It's also worth noting that Anschutz maintains an ongoing relationship with the Koch brothers, including attendance at the oil billionaires' twice-a-year political gatherings.
Politico, meanwhile, has been reporting on Anschutz's hyper-conservative views as far back as 2009.
Anschutz also bought the Examiner newspaper in 2004, and currently owns the Washington, DC, edition, which has a history of denying climate change and denouncing the Obama administration's fight against it.
So, perhaps it isn't surprising that information about Anschutz's political affiliations have been unearthed in the wake of this week's Coachella lineup announcement. It's something to think about before shelling out hundreds of bucks to journey to the California desert destination in order to share your free-loving, tree-hugging true self to everyone on Instagram.
If you still want to go, Coachella takes place in Indio, CA, and will run from April 14 to 16, then again from April 21 to 23.
UPDATE (01/05, 6:30 p.m. EST): In response to the allegations, Anschutz has released a statement denying that both he and his charitable Anschutz Foundation have ever donated to "any organization with the purpose or expectation that it would finance anti-LGBTQ initiatives."
The statement reads: "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."
The statement added: "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."
Despite his claims, the Anschutz Foundation's IRS filings are publicly available and suggest otherwise. The company's 2013 filings are the most up-to-date records, and according to SPIN they show that the foundation also contributed to Promise Keepers (who believe "that the Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality violates God's creative design for a husband and a wife and that it is a sin") and the Navigators (an organization that described homosexuality as "sexual brokenness" in 2013).