Coachella’s parent company donates money to an anti-abortion group

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On June 24th, the day the Supreme Court toppled Roe v. calfThe Republican Attorneys General Association appealed to its supporters with an urgent request for money: “[E]Every donation will help Republican attorneys general fight the Democrat abortion agenda and stand tall for life.”

A few days later, on June 29, the Anschutz Corporation — a giant holding company known to own live music giant AEG Presents, the parent company of several major festivals including Coachella — made a donation, according to a July filing with the IRS of $75,000 to RAGA. The money from Anschutz Corporation comes as RAGA prepares for election season with the goal of installing attorney generals to enforce and champion anti-abortion laws in key states where abortion rights remain in limbo, such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, and Ohio Florida.

Anschutz Corporation denies that it or its owner received, saw, or knew of the RAGA fundraiser and states in a statement that it does so Rolling Stone that they have been donating to RAGA since 2014 and that “[a]As a private matter, Philip F. Anschutz believes in women’s suffrage and does not support reversal roe.”

RAGA’s opposition to abortion rights is well established. Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, a member of RAGA, was responsible for the legal strategy to eliminate Mississippi’s constitutional right to abortion Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court case that was overturned roe. In July 2021, 24 of RAGA’s 26 other members submitted an amicus brief in support of Fitch. “The court’s precedent on abortion is flawed, contradictory, inconsistent and unreliable,” the Republican Attorney General wrote. “roe and Casey should be suspended.” (The only current members of RAGA who did not sign the order were New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella, who took office in April 2021, and Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, who was elected after meager was signed.)

AEG Presents and its subsidiary Goldenvoice (which presents Coachella and Stagecoach) are just a few stars in the vast galaxy that make up Anschutz Corporation’s holdings. It is notable, however, that Anschutz’s earnings are used by RAGA to support these efforts, when some of that revenue is driven by ticket sales to concerts and festivals run by major artists who have harshly criticized conservative attacks on reproductive rights to have.

According to a draft opinion of Dobbs Leaked back in May, at least 15 artists who performed at Coachella this year — including Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion and Phoebe Bridgers — signed a full-page ad The New York Times Condemnation of the Court’s actions. “Our power to plan our own future and control our own bodies depends on our ability to access sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion,” the artists said in the ad. “We will not back down – and we will not go back.”

After the actual verdict was announced, Harry Styles, another Coachella 2022 headliner, continued to write Twitter that he was “devastated” by the decision. Eilish, performing in Britain’s Glastonbury on the day the decision was announced, told the crowd: “Today is a really, really dark day for women in the US.” And Megan Thee Stallion also used her Glastonbury platform to announce: ” And I want it on the damn record that the hot boys and the hot girls don’t support this bullshit that you’re all fighting for. My body is my fucking choice.”

Other Coachella 2022 cast members who spoke out against it Dobbs decision, or have supported election efforts in the past Maggie Rogers, Finneas, Arcade Fire and Kim Petras. In addition to Coachella, outspoken artist Maren Morris also played Stagecoach at the AEG/Goldenvoice Country festival this year (Brandi Carlile, who criticized the Dobbs decision, should also play Stagecoach, but had to cancel due to Covid-19). And politically oriented acts like Halsey, Green Day, Dua Lipa, Charlie XCX, youngbloodand pasture are playing at AEG’s Firefly Festival in Dover, Delaware in September.

Representatives from Styles, Eilish, Finneas, Megan Thee Stallion, Arcade Fire, Morris, Halsey, Carlile, Green Day, Dua Lipa, Charli XCX, Yungblud and Willow did not immediately respond to requests for comment; Petras, Rogers and Bridgers were not immediately available for comment, according to their representatives.

In a statement to Rolling Stone, AEG replied, “AEG, AEG Presents, Goldenvoice and their other subsidiaries, as one company, stand strongly for women’s suffrage. As the owner and producer of many of the world’s most inclusive festivals and venues, we have taken steps to make our position clear in this regard. On June 28th, in the wake of the worrying upset of Roe v. calf and with the full support of The Anschutz Corporation, we have notified all of our employees that we will pay for travel and accommodation for women who are required to leave their home state for reproductive health services, including abortion. As always, we remain committed to choice, freedom and access to comprehensive reproductive health options for women.”

Records show that in March 2022, the Anschutz Corporation also contributed a combined $750,000 to the Senate Leadership Fund and the House Leadership Fund — super PACs aimed at returning control of the House and Senate to Republicans. Senator Mitch McConnell has said he would consider a national ban on abortion if his party regains control of Congress.

It should come as no surprise that the Anschutz Corporation donated $75,000 to RAGA and larger amounts to other Republican committees. The company, which is owned by 82-year-old billionaire Philip Anschutz, has garnered a lot of attention and notoriety for donating to right-wing groups in the past, although its officials have noted that it has donated to many other groups as well Rolling Stone he “does not review or endorse any of the positions” held by these groups.

The Anschutz Corporation’s full statement reads: “As a personal matter, Philip F. Anschutz believes in a woman’s right to vote and has not supported reversal roe. Neither The Anschutz Corporation (TAC) nor Mr. Anschutz have received, seen, or been aware of a request for funds from the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) as a result of the reversal Roe v. calf. TAC has been a contributor to RAGA since at least 2014. No contribution by TAC or Mr. Anschutz to RAGA was based on, informed or motivated by any RAGA position roe or abortion. Mr. Anschutz makes donations to numerous organizations, mostly for specific reasons. He does not review or endorse any of the positions taken by such organizations.”

AEG owner Philip Anschutz in 2017.

Shaun Clark/Getty Images

In 2017, Anschutz faced criticism after his foundation reportedly donated to anti-LGBTQ groups including the Alliance Defending Freedom, the National Christian Foundation and the Family Research Council. Anschutz has denied allegations that he is anti-LGBTQ, calling the claims “fake news” and adding, “I unequivocally support the rights of all people regardless of sexual orientation.”

At the time, Anschutz said he would stop funding groups involved in anti-LGBTQ activities. And while contributions to the above groups have ceased, Pitchfork reported in 2018 that Anschutz was still giving money to smaller organizations with a history of anti-LGBTQ statements and activities. Among them was popular Christian youth ministry Young Life, which since last year has welcomed LGBTQ youth but not allowed them to serve as volunteers or staff. (Following Pitchfork’s report, an attorney for Anschutz said, “We’re proud of the progress we’ve made in this regard, but there’s always room for improvement.”)

How many companies after Dobbs decision, AEG pledged last month to cover the travel and accommodation costs of employees whose access to reproductive health care is at risk. “We understand that the issue of reproductive rights is of great importance to our employees, and we are committed to supporting you and your family with health care that continues to provide medical and prescription benefits for reproductive health services including abortion,” the company wrote in an email viewed by Rolling Stone.

The upcoming Wisconsin election is a clear example of how critical the Attorney General elections are in a post-roe World. The state’s current Attorney General, Democrat Josh Kaul, said he would not “investigate or prosecute” anyone who violates the state’s 1849 statute prohibiting abortion, which remained on the books but was not enforced thereafter roe was decided in 1973. Kaul also recently sued to block the ban after it was triggered by Dobbs.

The three Republicans who want to unseat Kaul this November have all said they would enforce the state’s abortion ban if elected. And regardless of who wins the Republican primary for AG next month, the Republican Attorneys General Association will be ready to provide assistance, having already reserved $682,250 in TV advertising time for spots against Kaul running in October and November should run.

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