As Outrage Mounts, San Francisco Gyms Say They’ll Leave the Gold’s Gym Brand
Via Salon, the Gold’s Gym controversy — sparked by a massive donation from the Robert Rowling, the owner of Gold’s parent company, TRT Holdings, to American Crossroads — continues to grow:
Four Gold’s Gyms franchises in the San Francisco Bay Area will leave the Gold’s brand after 22 years following the revelation that the owner of Gold’s gave $2 million to American Crossroads, the conservative outfit that is funding candidates who are unfriendly to gay rights.
“Our contracts started 22 years ago. We’re one of the first franchisees for Gold’s Gym. We can’t get out over night, but we will be out of it,” Don Dickerson, director of operations for Gold’s in the Bay Area, told Salon, adding that the bulk of the gyms’ business comes from the LGBT community.
The announcement that the local gyms in San Francisco would drop their franchise status was enough to prompt a response from Dave Reiseman, spokesman for Gold’s Gym International, who attempted to distance the organization from Rowling:
Gold’s Gym is a non-political organization and our member’s dues are not used to fund political candidates. Bob Rowling, the CEO of our ownership group, TRT Holdings, made a private donation completely independent from (and not on behalf of) Gold’s Gym.
It is important to note that most Gold’s Gyms around the country are independently owned and operated by franchisees. They are hard working small business owners who embrace and accept members from all walks of life.
The question of what degree of accountability corporations should face for the political donations from their general treasuries, corporate parents or private owners continues to grow in relevance in an era in which corporate money can be used freely to advocate in elections. The irony, of course, is that Rowling’s donation was a personal one, yet heightened scrutiny of political donations and their corporate ties have doubtless made it a bigger issue in the post-Citizens United world.