Politics could lead Gold's gyms in CA to cut ties

AP News
Posted: Oct 27, 2010 8:52 PM
Politics could lead Gold's gyms in CA to cut ties

The Gold's Gym chain, a training ground for young Arnold Schwarzenegger and a popular workout spot for gays in San Francisco, could be losing a few franchises after its CEO contributed to a Karl Rove-backed group that supports candidates opposed to expanding gay rights.

Don Dickerson, director of operations for Gold's gyms in Oakland, San Francisco and Marin, said the $2 million donation by CEO Robert Rowling to American Crossroads was unfortunate.

"Gold's Gym San Francisco has long been a pillar of the gay community. We will continue to be," Dickerson wrote in a statement posted on Facebook.

Rowling, a Texas billionaire, is head of TRT Holdings Inc., the parent company of Gold's Gym. A call to his office seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Dickerson said he had no additional comment beyond his Facebook posting.

Rowling told Fox News his contribution had nothing to do with gay rights and was made because American Crossroads supports fiscally conservative candidates.

"I've never heard one discussion of a social issue," he said. "This is all about fiscal sanity."

American Crossroads was inspired by Rove, a top political adviser of President George W. Bush, as a way to turn anger against Democrats into electoral success for Republicans.

Among those supported by the group are Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle and Rep. Roy Blunt, a GOP Senate candidate in Missouri.

Angle opposes allowing gays to adopt children. Blunt favors a ban on same-sex marriage.

Gold's Gym International, which started in the 1960s in Venice Beach, Calif., and was the favorite gym of Schwarzenegger when he came to California, said in a statement that it values its ties to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and does not support anti-gay causes.

"Gold's Gym did not make a donation to American Crossroads," spokesman Dave Reiseman said in a statement. "Bob Rowling, the CEO of our ownership group, TRT Holdings, made a private donation."