June 19, 2013

New Report on Political Contributions Underscores Walmart’s Sharp Turn to the Right

DSC_6643A new report issued Tuesday shows that Walmart and the Walton family that founded and controls the company have dramatically increased their political contributions over the last decade and that the vast majority of those contributions have gone to Republicans and right-wing causes, including anti-gay, anti-environment and pro-gun politicians and causes. The report asserts that Walmart, the world’s largest private employer, and the Walton family have spent over $17 million in federal elections and millions more on state and local initiatives. Since the 2000 election cycle, more than $11.6 million—69% of Walmart and the Waltons’ contributions—has gone to Republican candidates and committees. At the same time, 83% of the Waltons’ contributions, including their contributions to Super PACs, went to Republicans.

The report, “An Analysis of Walmart and Walton Family Political Spending, 2000-2012,” comes after Walmart’s recent hiring of Dan Bartlett, a Bush Administration official known for his work in creating the “weapons of mass destruction” narrative, to replace Leslie Dach as Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs. Dach worked in the Clinton Administration.

“This new report highlights the degree to which Walmart and the Walton family use their considerable wealth to distort the political process,” said William Fletcher, a member of OUR Walmart and an Associate at the Walmart store in Duarte, California. “The Waltons are the richest family in the world. Instead of putting their money into fair wages for us Walmart workers, they instead pour millions into a right-wing agenda that has nothing to do with business and everything to do with their radical ideology.”

The report further underscores Walmart and the Waltons’ turn to the right and shows that political contributions doesn’t simply stop at supporting Republicans; in 2008, Jim Walton gave $75,000 to the Arkansas Family Council Action Committee, which at the time was supporting a ballot measure to prevent gay families from adopting. Meanwhile, 94% of the Walton family’s contributions to candidates from 2000 to 2012 went to those who were opposed to or silent on the issue of marriage equality.

Aside from their record of supporting anti-LGBT candidates, the Waltons and Walmart disproportionately contribute to candidates with low scores on civil rights, women’s issues, immigration, and those who oppose raising the minimum wage. The Waltons also support NRA-backed candidates; 76% of all their donations from 2000-2012 have gone to candidates or politicians with an A+ or an A from the NRA.

The Walton family, collectively worth $115 billion, has more wealth than the bottom 42% of Americans combined. At the same time, despite more than $16 billion in annual profits and executives making 1,000 times more than the average Walmart employee, a new report released by the Democratic staff of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce found that the costs to taxpayers at just one Walmart store as a result of Walmart’s inadequate wages and benefits is about $1 million.

Tuesday’s report was issued by Making Change at Walmart, a growing coalition challenging Walmart to help rebuild our economy and strengthen working families, and comes as a growing number of associates and supporters nationwide are calling for the company to end retaliation against employees and for the company to publicly commit to providing full-time work with a minimum salary of $25,000 a year so workers don’t have to rely on tax-payer funded programs to support their families.