ROCKSTAR CEO, nixed by Newsom, embraces gays

ROCKSTAR Energy Drink CEO Russell Weiner – a longtime friend of San Francisco Gavin Newsom, whose gubernatorial campaign in May returned Weiner’s $25,000 contribution – announced today his company will expand its LGBT corporate policies and make a total of $100,000 in donations to several prominent LGBT groups.

The polices “mark steps by ROCKSTAR to demonstrate support for the LGBT community,” the company’s news release says.

“It has recently come to ROCKSTAR’s attention that there might be a misconception about our company’s policy and my personal support for LGBT rights,” Weiner said in the news release. “We apologize for that misunderstanding, and want to make clear today that our company fully supports our LGBT employees and our LGBT customers.”

“Some have erroneously associated our company with offensive language directed at LGBT people, specifically statements coming from Michael Savage, who is not and has never been a shareholder or officer of ROCKSTAR Energy Drink. On behalf of our company and directors, including myself and CFO Janet Weiner, I would like to take this opportunity to disavow any offensive statements directed toward LGBT people, including statements from Michael Savage. ROCKSTAR assures our customers and the general public that our brand will never be associated with any language that does not affirm the essential dignity of every person in our diverse national community.”

Savage, the Bay Area-based conservative talk radio personality, is Weiner’s father. Activsts have been urging a boycott of ROCKSTAR in light of Savage’s offensive on-air comments about LGBT people. Change.org, along with The Bilerico Project, The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), The Trevor Project, and Michael Rogers of PageOneQ.com worked with ROCKSTAR to reach the deal announced today.

Weiner ran for the state Assembly in 1998 as a Republican, touting the fact that he with his dad had founded the conservative Paul Revere Society (later stripped of its nonprofit status, and now redirecting Web browsers to Savage’s site.)

Newsom’s campaign returned Weiner’s money a few weeks after the contribution was made; campaign director Eric Jaye issued a statement saying the campaign believed “that the confusion caused by the conflicts between the views expressed by Mr. Weiner in his campaign for State Assembly and the views and values of Mayor Newsom are best addressed this way.” The campaign said nothing of the ROCKSTAR boycott campaign. Weiner at the time said he would give that money to charity, with no hard feelings.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.