Philip Anschutz, the CEO of concert and live event promoter AEG, is shooting down reports that he has worked against the LGBTQ community as “fake news” and “garbage.” In a statement to Rolling Stone, Anschutz said that he was proud that the Anschutz Entertainment Group – which runs Coachella and owns promoter Bowery Presents – was proud of employing people from diverse backgrounds.
Last year, Anschutz was included on a graph made by the LGBTQ-rights group Freedom for All Americans, viewable via The Washington Post, that suggested he and his foundation gave money to organizations opposing gay rights. The alleged foundations include Alliance Defending Freedom, a group that the Post says “advocates for your right to freely live out your faith,” Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as an “extremist group” and National Christian Foundation, which funds efforts to limit gay rights.
The article resurfaced on Thursday after Uproxx published an article under the headline, “Coachella Is Apparently Owned By An Anti-Gay, Climate Change Denier.”
“Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news – it is all garbage,” he wrote. “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.”
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He also claimed to endorse foundations that supported gay and lesbian rights. “Both the Anschutz Foundation and I contribute to numerous organizations that pursue a wide range of causes,” he wrote. “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.”
Asked about giving to those specific groups, a rep for Anschutz said, “We have immediately ceased all contributions to such groups.”
Alliance Defending Freedom, one of the groups targeted by Freedom for All Americans, praised Anschutz and his family following his statement. “The Anschutz family has likely done more to help the poor and disadvantaged live a better life and to promote art and culture than all of their attackers combined,” Vice President of Communications Greg Scott tells Rolling Stone. “They deserve only honor and praise for their years of service to the many, many people who have benefited from their care and generosity.”
Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans, expressed optimism regarding Anschutz in a statement to Rolling Stone. “It’s encouraging to see that even those who’ve funded groups opposed to LGBT equality in the past are willing to change their views and come around to opposing discrimination,” McTighe said.