Chicago alderman to Chick-fil-A: I demand that you clarify your stance on donating to anti-SSM groups

Not content with telling anyone who’ll listen that the company’s building permit depends upon them conforming to his political views, he’s now gone ahead and put it in writing. In fairness to him, I don’t understand their current position either. As noted on Friday, apparently they promised this guy initially that they’d no longer donate to groups “with political agendas”; whether that was rhetorical sleight of hand or whether someone at the top later had a change of heart is unclear, but their latest statement insisted that “Chick-fil-A made no such concessions, and we remain true to who we are and who we have been.” Either Moreno’s flatly lying about what they said to him or the company’s official position is “in flux” at CFA HQ.

Moreno’s full statement:

Dan Cathy decided to make a PUBLIC statement to Mike Huckabee that, at the least, muddied the progress we had made with Chick-fil-A and, at the worst, contradicted the documents and promises Chick-fil-A made to me and the community earlier this month. Since Mr.Cathy made a PUBLIC statement, I am PUBLICLY asking him to confirm and support what I was told and shown by his company representatives.

1. For the FIRST TIME in the company’s history the company wrote and distributed a document to all of its employees titled, “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are” that guarantees that the company and its employees will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect- regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”

2. I am asking him to PUBLICLY confirm and support a letter that was voluntarily given to me by his company executives earlier this year that states the future behavior of Chick-fil-A’s not for profit arm, The WinShape Foundation. The letter states that, “The WinShape Foundation is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.” We were told that these organizations included groups that politically work against the rights of gay and lesbian people.

3. I am also asking him to PUBLICLY confirm and support what Chick-fil-A executives voluntarily told and confirmed to me earlier this month— that Chick-fil-A, and its not for profit arm WinShape, in 2012 has not and will not donate to entities with political agendas, including organizations that politically work against the rights of gay and lesbian people.

Mr Cathy continues to not confirm to the press what his company executives have told and showed me. This is disturbing. Since Mr. Cathy wants to confuse people, he needs to publicly confirm the three components described above, which allowed us to move forward. I am simply asking Mr. Cathy to confirm statements and documents that HIS company exectuives provided to me. It is pretty simple, Mr. Cathy. Do you acknowledge and support the policies that your exectuives outlined to me in writing or do you not? Yes or no? If not, Chick Fil A is a business that practices irresponsible, and potentially illegal, business standards.

Perhaps Mr. Cathy felt that he could make these public statements to Mike Huckabee because I had provided a letter of support for his restaurant to the City of Chicago earlier this week. I provided this letter based on the progress we had made with Chick-fil-A. I still need to introduce legislation to make the Chick-fil-A in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago a reality. I will wait to see what Mr. Cathy’s next PUBLIC statement is, and reflect on that statement before moving forward with appropriate legislation.

Emphases mine. In other words, if CFA thought they could make an empty promise and then break it as soon as they got the building permit, they moved too soon: Moreno hasn’t blessed the permit yet. They’ve got three options now, as I see it. One: If he really has sunk to lying about what they told him, they need to call him on it — loudly. I realize that being in the political spotlight could be bad for business but they shouldn’t let false accusations from some imperious state functionary go unanswered. Two: Confirm that they told him originally that they’d change their donation habits but have now had a change of heart and are dropping their request for a permit in his ward. This doesn’t have to be framed as caving to his demands; it could be an expression of disgust that he’d attempt to strong-arm them and a principled refusal to play by such corrupt rules. Just walk away. Why give this cretin the satisfaction of exercising his quasi-royal prerogative of nullifying their right to build over a grudge? Three: Sue him on First Amendment grounds now that they have evidence in writing that the permit’s being withheld due to viewpoint discrimination. They might not win — a court might blanch at the thought of overriding a legislator’s discretion by ordering him to submit a bill in the city council — but even if they don’t, the PR value of being seen as free-speech martyrs should offset some or all of the business discomfort of remaining in the thick of the culture wars over gay marriage.

Exit question: The Atlantic notes that the company’s latest statement said Chick-fil-A hasn’t made any concessions but didn’t say that the WinShape Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the company that’s responsible for making its charitable contributions, hasn’t made any. Is that the sleight of hand here? CFA proper will go on donating to whoever it likes — but not CFA’s charity? Hmmm.