Coachella’s Owner Doesn’t Just Back Anti-LGBT Groups—He Wants To Ban Legal Pot, Too

Billionaire Philip Anshutz was criticized last year for donating to Family Research Council and other hate groups.

Coachella is known for bringing major headliners to the stage, but the annual music festival came under fire last year when it surfaced that Philip Anshutz, owner of Coachella’s parent company, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), funded notorious anti-LGBT organizations like the National Christian Foundation, the Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom, which is defending Masterpiece Cakeshop in its Supreme Court case.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

In all, The Anschutz Foundation gave $190,000 to those groups between 2010 and 2013. At the time, the 78-year-old billionaire insisted he wasn’t a homophobe.

“Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news,” he said in a statement. “It is all garbage. I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation.” Anschutz claimed to have immediately stopped giving to FRC and the other two groups listed above.

But according to the Anschutz Foundation’s most recent tax filings, which cover December 2015 to November 2016, he kept giving to other organizations with anti-LGBT agendas: Pitchfork cites several Christian ministries receiving donations in 2016, including $40,000 to the Navigators, which claims homosexuality leads to “sexual brokenness,” and $50,000 to Dare 2 Share Ministries, which has called homosexuality “a Satanic perversion of God’s gift of sex.”

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella

Reached for comment, Anschutz’s lawyer told Pitchfork, “One year ago we stated publicly that we unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation. We stand by those words and reaffirm the commitment we made at that time that The Anschutz Foundation would not knowingly fund any organization that would support anti-LGBTQ initiatives.”

They admitted it’s an ongoing process, as “some of these groups may have initiatives that extend beyond the scope of the objectives sought by the Foundation in supporting them.”

In addition to anti-LGBT organizations, Anschutz has thrown money at pro-gun and anti-choice groups, a lobbying group owned by the Koch brothers, and NumbersUSA, which calls itself an “immigration-reduction organization.”

He’s also on the warpath to stop the legalization of marijuana: According to Freedom Leaf, the Anschutz Foundation has donated more than $200,000 to anti-marijuana efforts in Colorado, which decriminalized pot in 2012.

Some 100,000 attendees are expected to descend on Indo in April for for Coachella 2018, when Beyoncé, Eminem, St. Vincent, Haim, and the Weeknd will all perform.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.