Will The Walton Family Foundation Follow Suit?
In response to growing calls to sever ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Walmart announced today that they are leaving the controversial organization. This is a significant victory for the an array of community organizations and leaders, as well as Walmart Associates – members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) – who had been campaigning in recent weeks and months for Walmart to join the ranks of companies distancing themselves from ALEC.
Recently, the Walmart 1 Percent and the Making Change at Walmart Campaign joined a powerful coalition of grassroots organizations, including Color of Change, Common Cause and the Center for Media and Democracy, to call on Walmart to leave ALEC. Much of the attention focused on ALEC’s support for laws like the controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws, as well as laws which function to make it more difficult to vote – particularly for the poor, people of color, and the elderly.
Despite withdrawing their support from ALEC for the time being, Walmart has still not taken a public position to oppose those laws. It is also worth noting that the Walton Family Foundation (run by the family that controls Walmart), has been a supporter of ALEC. The statement released by Walmart says nothing about whether the WFF is severing ties.
Of course, this move does not fundamentally change Walmart or the Walton family’s role in distorting our democracy. In the last two decades, the Walton Family has spent more than $5 million in federal elections, while Walmart spent more than $4 million in the 2010 cycle alone.
But, nonetheless, we think it is important to take a moment and remind ourselves that Walmart, despite its enormous size and power, can respond to public pressure.
The Making Change at Walmart Campaign issued a statement today, which read, in part,
“Today is a victory for the growing coalition of community, civil rights and religious groups, workers and unions who are calling for Walmart to change the way it does business so we can rebuild an America that works for the middle class. The Making Change at Walmart campaign worked closely with Color of Change, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Common Cause, ALEC Exposed, the Center for Media and Democracy and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union to call for Walmart to leave ALEC. Our efforts have only begun to demand more accountability, from Walmart and the Walton Family, for the impact on our communities of their business and political practices.
We couldn’t agree more. Now, on to the shareholder meeting!