Wednesday, March 24, 2004


This WSJ story on Wal-Mart's foray into Washington lobbying will really make your stomach turn.

In 1998, the retailer hired its first lobbyist -- a retired Air Force lieutenant general -- and set out to transform itself from a company without a Washington presence to one that could bend public policy to suit its business needs...Unlike most corporations, which contribute to both parties in rough proportion to Congress's partisan split, about 85% of Wal-Mart's checks go to Republicans. And recently Mr. Allen was named a "Pioneer" by the Bush campaign, meaning he has raised at least $100,000 by getting friends and colleagues to make contributions of up to $2,000 each...Congressional allies rushed to offer advice, including Trent Lott, then Senate majority leader. Mr. Lott arrived in Bentonville in late 1999 with a simple message, according to a congressman who attended the meeting: Increase your profile and open your wallet.

Wal-Mart has been successful in raising PAC money (nearly $1.5 million, making it the second largest) by relying upon many of the same tactics it uses to force employees to work unpaid overtime:

For some employees, the pressure to contribute became a point of contention. "With my district manager sitting 3 inches over my shoulder, you think I didn't sign up?" recalls Jon Lehman, a Wal-Mart manager who quit in November 2001 and is now working with union organizers to enlist Wal-Mart workers. Current Wal-Mart employees, who asked not to be named, also report feeling pressured to give to the PAC.

In defense of their political activities, Wal-Mart offered that they were merely donating to candidates who shared the company's priorities. Truly a laudable goal.


At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Bjørn Østman said...



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