DENVER – Philip Anschutz, the Denver-based conservative entrepreneur and son of Frederick Anschutz, called reports he is an opponent of the LGBTQ community “fake news” and “garbage” in a statement released Thursday.
Anschutz owns the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), a sports and music entertainment group that runs a slew of venues and is among the country’s largest presenters of live music.
He came under fire in a story published Wednesday by viral media site Uproxx, which, citing a Washington Post report, claimed Anschutz was “anti-LGBT” because he had donated to conservative groups Alliance Defending Freedom, the National Christian Foundation and Family Research Council – all groups that have lobbied against LGBTQ law and social strides.
Political money tracking group Open Secrets records show Anschutz and his wife donated a little more than $1 million this political cycle – all to Republican groups.
Anschutz’s AEG is the entertainment group putting on famed California music festival Coachella, and Uproxx wrote that “heading out to Indio [California] puts money in the pockets of a man who is definitely un-chill” adding that “Anschutz uses the money he makes from his various properties…to support some troubling causes.”
“If the price tag isn’t keeping you out of Indio this year, maybe your conscience should,” Uproxx author Alex Galbraith wrote.
The story was picked up across various other websites, including Rolling Stone and The Fader.
But Anschutz hit back in a statement Thursday.
“Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news – it is all garbage,” he said in a statement. “I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation.”
He said the Anschutz Foundation and he himself “contribute to numerous organizations that pursue a wide range of causes” and that “when it has come to my attention or the attention of The Anschutz Foundation that certain organizations…have been supporting [anti-LGBTQ] causes, we have immediately ceased all contributions to such groups.”
His full statement can be read below:
"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."
ProgressNow Colorado and One Colorado, which first called on Anschutz to stop funding the groups after the Washington Post story was published, issued another statement Friday to follow up on Anschutz’s comments.
“It is heartening to see Phil Anschutz give his unequivocal support of everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, and we appreciate that the Anschutz Foundation has stopped funding anti-LGBTQ hate groups after the Washington Post revealed the funding in their July article,” said One Colorado Executive Director, Daniel Ramos, in a statement. “We are grateful that Phil Anschutz looked at the facts and did the right thing after our organization and others asked him to cease funding these groups.”