Tell Walmart and the Walton Family: Drop ALEC!

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Activist and author Bill Fletcher hits the nail on the head in his article on The Root (also published here) this week: It’s time for Walmart and the Walton Family Foundation to join the growing list of companies and foundations—like Coca-Cola, Kraft, Pepsi, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—and cut ties with ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

A quick recap:

  • ALEC is infamous for promoting legislation that advances a conservative ideological agenda and benefits its members at the expense of everyone else. As we’ve written before, the organization developed and promoted anti-union legislation in Wisconsin and Ohio, as well as Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB 1070. It’s also been an ardent supporter of the privatization of education, “voter-ID laws”–which distort our democracy by making it harder for low-income people and people of color to vote–and is becoming increasingly known for having developed the “Stand Your Ground” law that became notorious following the death of Trayvon Martin.
  • Walmart and the Waltons use their wealth to buy influence in our democracy through undemocratic, secretive groups like ALEC. Walmart and the Walton Family Foundation were listed side by side as chairman-level sponsors of the conservative group’s annual meeting last August. A chairman sponsorship cost $50,000 in 2010. Walmart’s VP of Public Affairs, Maggie Sans, is the secretary of ALEC’s private enterprise board, and Walmart executive Janet Scott was the co-chair of ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Force in 2005, when the task force approved the model language for “Stand Your Ground” laws.

 We also now know that Walmart and the Waltons have supported politicians with close ties to ALEC. A Walmart 1 Percent analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics and reveals that, since 1990, Walmart’s PAC and the Waltons have given more than $1 million to politicians who have been board members or state chairs of ALEC. From 2006-2010 alone, they gave more than $500,000 to the campaigns of ALEC alumni currently serving in Congress. Although these politicians comprised less than 2% of the candidates during that period, they have received almost 12% of Walmart and the Waltons’ total contributions in Congressional races during the last three cycles.

So why do the Waltons and Walmart support ALEC and ALEC allies? They might like ALEC’s politics, but they’d also reap financial benefits from excessively punitive ALEC-backed bills—like one that establishes additional regulations on swap meets and flea markets, making it harder for those small sellers to compete with retailers like Walmart, or another that would make it a felony to steal from three separate retailers, no matter how little the stolen merchandise might be worth, or yet another that creates harsher penalties for thieves who leave stores through the emergency exit door.

It’s time for Walmart and the Walton family to stop supporting ALEC and its anti-worker, anti-immigrant, anti-democratic platform.


  1. Dorothy Pocaigue says:

    I have begun boycotting shopping at WalMart. A few million more people, and it would be amazing what changes a “few” committed people can accomplish (“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead)

  2. Santosh says:

    In my humble ooipinn there’s not really anyway around feeling a compulsion for society to support the Wal-Mart employees that Wal-Mart won’t take care of . Avoiding for the moment the issue of whether Wal-Mart is exploiting its worker by its monopsonic control on labor prices, it seems clear that there exist a surfeit of people ready willing and able to work for Walmart at the wages it offers. Assuming Walmart is a greedy soulless corporation there is no way to raise the going price of labor without reducing the amount of labor Walmart demands. Enacting standards that force Walmart to have a soul would merely shift Walmart to putting greater emphasis on mechanization, shrinking the amount of employees they have to hire at greater expense. The employees now out of a job are just more dependent on government support then they were before. The problem exists because the kind of work people at Walmart do simply isn’t worth a living wage. Menial labor has been increasing marginalized over the years and the trend is only accelerating. Raising the cost of having employees only accelerates the trend. The good news is that the reason these people are being priced out of a living wage is because the top 10-20% (arbitrary numbers) have had their relative productivity increased orders of magnitude(mostly because through increased mechanization they can do they work that previously took the entire population). The total largess of society is greater then ever.Walmart isn’t the enemy, technology is. Or, less bombastically, the progress of technology has steadily eroded the value of physical labor to the point where it only barely provides a survivable income. The leftist solution would be wealth transfers, the right wing solution appears to be oscillating between ostrichism and waiting for a die off.

  3. David says:

    Let’s not privatize education; let’s keep the wonderful system we have as it is. This article lost my interest when it put “Arizona’s anti-immigrant” legislation in a negative light. I always notice how people play with words to suit their purpose. We are an EXTREMELY pro-immigrant country and always have been. Some people just don’t believe in obeying the law. Isn’t that the definition of a criminal?

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