Coachella Parent Company's CEO: Reports About Philip Anschutz's Anti-LGBT Donations Are 'A Smear Attempt by Competitors'
The announcement of the Coachella festival's lineup Tuesday was soon followed by a flurry of controversial articles about Philip Anschutz -- founder of AEG, the festival's parent company -- and his financial support of anti-LGBT groups over the years. Anschutz responded with a rare public statement claiming that he withdrew that support once he became aware that those groups were anti-LGBT (information that is largely impossible to verify without him releasing the pertinent documents).
That stance was supported Friday morning (Jan. 6) by a memo to the company's staff from AEG CEO Dan Beckerman. In it, he repeats Anschutz's claim that the reports are "false news" and says that they are a "coordinated attempt by our competitors to smear AEG and our many businesses," and goes on to list the company's pro-LGBT efforts (including the AEG-owned L.A. Galaxy soccer team's 2013 signing of Robbie Rogers) and its environmental sustainability efforts. (It should be noted that Anschutz's donations were from his own foundation, not from AEG.)
Billboard has obtained the memo, which is reproduced in full below.
To All Employees:
I am sure that most of you are already aware of recent attacks upon our owner, Mr. Philip Anschutz, and our company. These attempts to perpetuate and spread false news are part of a long running and coordinated attempt by our competitors to smear AEG and our many businesses, including our live music and facilities divisions. These attempts have failed before, and will fail again because actions speak louder than words and our track record demonstrates a strong commitment to both diversity and sustainability.
As all of you already know both diversity and sustainability are two of the core values that we here at AEG live every day and are wholly committed to fostering in our workplace and throughout the world. We believe that employing people of diverse backgrounds with a variety of experiences is critical to our success. Our inclusive workforce not only makes us stronger by providing us with a diversity of thought and perspective, but also allows us to better understand the needs of the local communities where we operate.
Over the years, there have been numerous examples illustrating the company’s support of the LGBTQ community, including a very significant moment in 2013, when we and the L.A. Galaxy broke new ground by signing Robbie Rogers, the first openly gay professional athlete to play in any of the major sports leagues in the United States. We did it because he is a great player and that is all that mattered.
More recently, both the LA Kings and LA Galaxy have supported a number of LGBT activities in the last year designed to ensure equality, respect and safety for all athletes, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, including a PSA campaign with You Can Play and an annual LGBT Pride night and most recently the 2016 GLSEN Respect Awards, respectively.
This year, AEG’s industry-leading environmental sustainability program, AEG 1EARTH, celebrates its 10-year anniversary. Over the last decade, we have established an undisputed reputation for leadership on sustainability in sports and entertainment. In a recent piece in the Sports Business Journal, Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, a true pioneer in the sports greening movement, noted that “AEG confirmed its position as the most environmentally responsible multi-venue operator” through the company’s 2016 adoption of a new science-based goal for company-wide GHG reductions. Additionally, AEG venues around the world continue to lead the way in installing on-site solar generation, combined heat and power generation, LED lighting, fuel cells, battery storage, and other technologies to minimize the environmental impacts of our operations.
Throughout our 20 year history, AEG and AEG Live through our venues and festivals have always provided artists with an open platform where they can express their views, rally for their causes and engage their fans through their music. We believe that true creativity is best expressed in an environment where everyone has the right to say what they believe in an unbiased and uncensored environment. We have worked hard to create a supportive and inclusive environment that respects the rights of all employees, artists and fans, as well as promoting a philosophy of sustainability throughout the world.