Former Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson has resigned from the boards of General Mills and Minnesota Public Radio less than a week after a public records watchdog group revealed that he had contributed $25,000 in 2016 to a group that mounted an anti-Muslim social media campaign to help elect Donald Trump president.
Anderson’s resignation from the General Mills board was noted in a single sentence in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Bradbury H. Anderson resigned from the General Mills, Inc. Board of Directors, effective April 9, 2018,” the filing said. It included no details.
David Murphy, MPR’s board chairman, said he was “saddened” by Anderson’s resignation and that the media organization did not ask for it.
“We are deeply grateful for all that Brad has invested in the mission and public service of MPR and the American Public Media Group,” Murphy said. “His service on the MPR board has strengthened the organization in countless ways.”
Last week, Anderson told the Star Tribune that he was unaware of the anti-Muslim campaign and bore no ill will toward Muslims. He said he gave the money to the group Secure America Now after meeting with its CEO and discussing the group’s advocacy for Israel.
Secure America Now’s largest donations, according to a 2016 tax returns obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics, included $2 million from Robert Mercer, a major supporter of Breitbart News, a conservative media outlet once run by Steve Bannon, former senior adviser to President Trump. Anderson said he did not know about Mercer’s donation.
Anderson said he would not donate to the group in the future.
When the Center for Responsive Politics brought his contribution to Secure America Now to light last week, Anderson also voluntarily left the board of Mayo Clinic.
Anderson served as Best Buy’s CEO from 2002 to 2009. He served on the electronics company’s board from 2013-2016. He no longer has any official position with Best Buy.
Neither does Best Buy founder Richard Schulze, whose investment company Olympus Ventures LLC also gave $25,000 to Secure America Now. Like Anderson, Schulze said he was unaware of the group’s ad campaign that targeted “radical Muslims.” For example, the group released a YouTube video titled “Welcome to the Islamic States of America,” imagining a future in which the Statue of Liberty is covered by an Islamic burqa. The campaign was mounted in key states that eventually went for Trump in the 2016 election. A statement issued by Olympus said Schulze had instructed the company to never again donate to Secure America Now.
Anderson’s and Schulze’s high profiles in Best Buy’s history was enough to prompt an official response from the company.
“Best Buy unequivocally values diversity and religious tolerance, within our company and in the communities in which we work and live,” the company said in a statement issued last Friday.