Documents reveal Walmart ties to secretive GOP group

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Documents released this week show substantial funds flowing from Walmart to the Republican Governors Policy Committee, the secretive 501(c)(4) arm of the Republican Governors Association. A schedule from a group symposium last year shows that Walmart contributed to the policy committee at the highest level—$250,000 and up—along with Koch Companies Public Sector, Exxon Mobil, Aetna, and others. Eric Brewer, Walmart’s Senior Director for Public Affairs and Government Relations, attended the meeting on behalf of the company.

The newly revealed documents shed light on a shadowy corner of money in politics, where company officials are given access to decision makers in exchange for contributions, in this case to a group that does not have to disclose its donors. As the New York Times explains, “the tax-exempt Republican Governors Public Policy Committee is not required to disclose anything, even as donors hit the links, rub shoulders and trade policy talk with governors and their top staff members.”

Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, told the Times, “This is a classic example of how corporations are trying to use secret money, hidden from the American people, to buy influence, and how the governors association is selling it.”

Walmart has a long history of giving big to GOP candidates and committees at the state level, perhaps a more impactful option as Congress continues to deadlock on so many issues. Since 2004, Walmart has given more than $1.7 million to the Republican State Leadership Committee, the group that led the 2010 Republican takeover of state legislatures. Over that same time period, 81% of Walmart’s contributions to candidates and party committees at the state level, more than $7 million, went to Republicans, according to data from Follow the Money.

As a result of the successful Republican takeovers in recent years, harmful right-wing policies have begun to emerge in places like North Carolina. There, the state legislature’s GOP majority drafted a budget and policies to make cuts to public education, cut unemployment and Medicaid benefits, and suppress voting rights—all things potentially harmful to Walmart workers and shoppers alike.

Watchdog Groups, Employee-Shareholders File FEC Complaint Alleging that Walmart is Running Illegal PAC Scheme

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Groups are alleging that Walmart illegally pushes associates into contributing to its political action committee, circumventing a federal law that bars companies from putting corporate funds into political campaigns.

Public CitizenCommon Cause and two Walmart employees and shareholders filed a charge with the Federal Elections Committee today. In the complaint, the two employee-shareholders, Cynthia Murray and Evelyn Cruz, allege in detail a program in which Walmart reportedly solicits the company’s managers to donate to Walmart’s PAC. In exchange, Walmart reportedly pledged to donate twice the amount of those contributions to its Associates in Critical Need Trust.

This complaint argues that this program is illegal under the Federal Election Campaign Act, which bars companies from making contributions to federal candidates, parties, or PACs.

Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen noted that “Wal-Mart is attempting to evade this law by providing a 2-to-1 charitable match from corporate coffers for any campaign contribution to its PAC from company managers. That flouts the law by using substantial corporate money to reward campaign contributors.”

In the past, the FEC has approved some charitable matching schemes, but those programs have been limited to a 1-to-1 match or less, with each donor choosing the benefiting charity-not the company as in this case.

The likes of this funding scheme by Walmart has never been approved by the FEC.  Here, the reportedly 200% matching rate provides such a powerful incentive that the campaign contributions lose their “voluntary” nature.  And these corporate contributions reportedly made exclusively to Walmart’s own charity, along with the campaign contributions to Walmart’s PAC, are simply self-serving for the company.

Murray, who has worked at a Walmart store in Laurel, Md., for 15 years and owns shares in the company, pointed out that such schemes are a fundamental challenge to our country’s democracy:

Multibillion-dollar corporations like Walmart are able to skirt the rules that the rest of us follow. With the majority of Walmart workers being paid less than $25,000, it’s not surprising that Walmart needs to set up a fund to help employees in need. Most of us are in need every day. With more than $16 billion in annual profits, Walmart can afford to pay us more instead of paying expensive lawyers to help them manipulate electoral laws and taxpayers.

Like Murray said, data from Open Secrets shows that since the 2000 election cycle, Walmart’s PAC has spent over $13 million on federal elections, which has gained the company outsized influence on our democratic process.

Common Cause President Miles Rapoport says, “It’s breathtaking. Walmart is running a cynical and likely illegal scheme to get its underpaid workers to help the company leverage its economic power in the political sphere.” The actions that warranted the FEC charge fall in line with Walmart’s chronically bad behavior when it comes to pushing others down and bending and breaking rules to get ahead.

Additionally, since the 2000 election cycle, the Walmart PAC has given more than $2.5 million to members of the U.S. House of Representatives who opposed increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 last year. Among House members who voted on the proposed minimum wage increase, nearly two-thirds of the Walmart PAC’s contributions went to those who voted no. The Washington Post has reported that Walmart’s lobbying disclosures suggest it started lobbying last year on the minimum wage and Fair Minimum Wage Act, despite public statements that it is “neutral” on the issue.

Reportedly pressuring employees for political donations and lobbying against increasing the minimum wage tell us one thing: it’s clear that Walmart truly doesn’t care about the well-being of its associates.

To see the FEC complaint, click here.

Walmart-backed State Senator spouts off against marriage equality ruling

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Arkansas State Senator Jason Rapert (R-Conway) spouted off against marriage equality last week – and simultaneously demonstrated his ignorance of the U.S. Constitution.  And it turns out that Walmart has contributed to Sen. Rapert’s re-election campaign

Walmart-backed State Senator tweets his opposition to marriage equality

Walmart-backed State Senator tweets his opposition to marriage equality

After Pulaski County, Arkansas Judge Chris Piazza struck down Arkansas’s gay marriage ban, Sen. Rapert tweeted:

“So one judge decides the majority vote of Arkansans means nothing? Precedent says Holy Matrimony is between one man & one woman.”

Sen. Rapert – known locally for his extreme anti-gay and anti-choice positions, and for his opposition to climate change legislation (all documented here by The Nation’s Lee Fang) – became nationally infamous last February, when The Nation posted a video of his racially-tinged rant against President Obama at a public event in 2011.

We pointed out at the time that Walmart heir and director Jim Walton and his wife had contributed $3,000 to Rapert since December 2010.

Today, we took another look at Rapert’s campaign finance disclosure reports and – lo and behold –we came across a $2,000 contribution from Walmart’s political action committee in July 2013.

A July 13, 2013 campaign finance disclosure report reveals a $2,000 Walmart contribution to Rapert

A July 13, 2013 campaign finance disclosure report reveals a $2,000 Walmart contribution to Rapert

It’s striking that Walmart’s contribution went to support Rapert in the upcoming May 20, 2014 Republican primary (as it turns out, he’s running unopposed).

It’s not like Walmart’s support can be attributed to the company’s opposition to some ultra-liberal challenger. Rather, Walmart seems to have gone out of its way to put its stamp of approval on Rapert.

The Walton family’s role in school re-segregation

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Under the guise of “reforming” K-12 education, the Walton family, which owns a majority of Walmart and has raked in unfathomable wealth off the backs of low-wage Walmart workers, has poured over $1 billion into efforts to undermine public schools and promote a corporate-friendly, privatized model of education.

The Walton family’s work in education is both misguided and profoundly anti-democratic. Yet, as Arkansas Times columnist Max Brantley wrote in a blog post discussing an Atlantic report on the re-segregation of Southern public schools, there is a less-examined but equally serious consequence of the family’s interference with schools: The Waltons’ chosen approaches to school reform, namely school choice and charter schools, are contributing to the re-segregation of public schools and the potential resurgence of highly segregated “apartheid schools.”

For example, In Little Rock, the capital of the Waltons’ home state of Arkansas, Brantley notes that a new Walton-funded charter school is expected to attract wealthier students away from the local public schools, leaving behind poorer students. The family also backed state legislation that bars school districts from considering race in its decisions about student school transfers. (For over twenty years, in order to preserve the integrity of school desegregation efforts, districts were permitted to consider race in transfer decisions.)

Scores of academic studies from a variety of states and countries demonstrate that the Waltons’ approach to education is probably worsening segregation not just in Arkansas, but everywhere they are funding “education reform.” As Iris Rotberg, a George Washington University education policy professor, wrote for the Phi Delta Kappan, school choice programs and the expansion of charter schools drive increases in school segregation by race, ethnicity, income, and other characteristics.

In spite of this evidence, the Walton family—itself an emblem of income inequality—remains a staunch advocate of school choice and is believed to be the country’s largest funder of charter schools. Walton-funded “reform” organizations often make the audacious, arrogant claim that they are leaders in the “new civil rights movement.” Actually, their efforts risk setting civil rights back by decades.

Ending child poverty has been shown to improve children’s academic performance. Walmart, which the Walton family controls roughly half of, continues to keep many of its associates in poverty, with low wages, poor benefits and unpredictable schedules that make parenting even more difficult. If the Waltons really want to make meaningful, substantive improvements in children’s education, they could help combat child poverty by ensuring living wages for the 1.3 million Walmart workers in the United States.

Supreme Court opens the flood gates to even more Walton money in politics

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Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down certain limits on individuals’ federal campaign contributions, with a ruling on McCutcheon v. FEC. The Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the cap on the aggregate amount that an individual can give directly to candidates for federal office, federal political action committees, and federal party committees.

The McCutcheon decision opens the door to dramatically increased federal election spending by wealthy, politically-motivated donors like the Waltons. A report from Demos and U.S. PIRG found that without an individual limit on campaign spending, more than $1 billion in additional campaign contributions from a small segment of elite donors is likely to come in through the 2020 election cycle.

With some of the deepest pockets in America, members of the Walton family have brushed up against the individual aggregate limit year after year. And the Waltons’ political priorities are well-documented. Their contributions further a personal, ideological agenda that is anti-woman, anti-environment, anti-minimum wage, and pro-gun.

Individual Walton federal contributions by year

2012

2010

2008

Individual aggregate limit

$117,000

$115,500

$108,200

Jim Walton

$112,000

$114,900

$107,300

Lynne Walton

$105,800

$111,500

$107,100

Alice Walton

$78,300

$93,900

$104,900


Analysis of data from
FEC.gov and Open Secrets

Already, a small group of donors has major influence on the political process. The Sunlight Foundation reports, “More than a quarter of the nearly $6 billion in contributions from identifiable sources in the last campaign cycle came from just 31,385 individuals, a number equal to one ten-thousandth of the U.S. population…the 1% of the 1%.” In 2012, no member of the House or Senate won election without help from this group. And this small group includes some familiar names: Alice, Christy, Jim, Lynne, Rob, Tillie, and Sam R. Walton are all part of this 1% of 1%.

Federal law had set caps on the total amount individuals could contribute to all candidates as well as the total amount that individuals could give to PACs and parties. For the 2011-2012 election cycle, the caps were $46,200 to all candidates and $70,800 to all PACs and parties, which added up to an aggregate limit of $117,000, more than twice the annual income of the average American household. Without those limits, extremely wealthy donors like the Waltons will be able to spend upwards of $3.5 million every election cycle—not including super PAC contributions!—to influence the democratic process.

In 2012, over half of the contributions from Jim Walton and his wife Lynne went to two Republican committees: the National Republican Senatorial Committee ($30,800 apiece, the 2012 maximum contribution to party a committee) and the National Republican Congressional Committee ($30,400 each). Without an aggregate limit on individual contributions, the Waltons could hypothetically write many more $30,000+ checks to other national party committees in the current cycle. They’ve already gotten started: in March 2013, Jim and Lynne each wrote $30,800 checks to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. At $123,200, Jim and Lynne Walton have given more money to the Republican party this cycle than Charles and David Koch.

Is Walmart “neutral” on the minimum wage in its lobbying meetings too?

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Walmart spokesperson David Tovar told Bloomberg this week that Walmart was “looking at” its position on the proposed federal minimum wage hike. A different company spokesperson quickly corrected the story, telling Reuters that Walmart’s position hadn’t changed at all and that the company remains “neutral” on the issue. Of course, two of the major business groups connected to Walmart—the National Retail Federation and the Chamber of Commerce—have voiced strong opposition to the measure, but Walmart maintains that it’s neutral, and Walmart and the Waltons’ history of political giving shows a preference for politicians who vote against raising the minimum wage.

Over at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog today, Lydia DePillis adds some interesting insight into Walmart’s activities on the issue, noting that the company reported lobbying on the minimum wage proposal in the fourth quarter of 2013 (reports for the start of 2014 haven’t been filed yet):

And yet, lobbying disclosure reports suggest that [Walmart] might have made up its mind as recently as the end of last year: Its $1,950,000 bill for in-house government relations in the fourth quarter includes a line about “Discussions regarding minimum wage and the Fair Minimum Wage Act (S. 460),” which would raise the wage to $10.10 over two years. That appears to be the first time the company has lobbied on the issue in several years — earlier reports don’t have a field for issues lobbied — and forms for the 10 outside firms it employed during the quarter don’t mention it.

Maybe Walmart does have a stance on raising the minimum wage after all.

The State Representative from…Walmart?

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City officials in Green Bay, WI, are fighting a proposed Walmart in the city’s historic Broadway district, but one state lawmaker has voiced a different opinion. State Representative John Klenke has said this week that he will ask the state’s Building Commission to reconsider $2 million set aside for the expansion of the city’s convention center if the city blocks the Walmart opening.

Alice WaltonRep. Klenke, a Republican representing parts of Green Bay and surrounding areas in the state house, has some powerful friends. As Fox 11 notes, Klenke has received campaign contributions from several members of Walmart’s Walton family. According to data from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Alice, Christy, Jim, and Lynne Walton have each made contributions to Klenke since 2010. In fact, the Waltons are no stranger to Wisconsin state legislative races. Despite the fact that none of them live in Wisconsin, six Waltons were among the top fifteen political donors in Wisconsin state legislative races from 2009-2010, the cycle that brought Republicans to power in the state.

Green Bay’s Mayor Jim Schmitt and members of the public are opposed to Walmart opening in the city’s historic Broadway district. Yet Klenke, who was reportedly previously in favor of the state funding for Green Bay’s convention center expansion, told Fox 11 this week, “If you’re not going to help yourself then why should we help you?” It’s a surprising exertion of government control from a legislator associated with the Tea Party.

It looks like the Waltons’ political contributions continue to pay off.

Walmart lobbied to avoid increased safety in Bangladesh

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Politico broke the news earlier this week that Walmart hired lobbyists to fight a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have cost the company business. Walmart has refused to sign the binding Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, in favor of a voluntary alliance it formed with Gap and other retailers. From Politico:

Retail giant Wal-Mart hired Porter Gordon Silver Communications to work on successfully stripping a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act in December, according to public disclosures released Tuesday. Several members of Congress had championed a worker-safety provision in the annual defense spending bill that would have given procurement priority to companies that signed onto a legally binding Bangladesh workers’ safety agreement called the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. Retailers like Wal-Mart and Gap have declined to sign on, and Wal-Mart unveiled its own nonbinding safety plan in May of last year for workers at its Bangladeshi factories. In practice, the provision would have cost Wal-Mart and other retailers not part of the accord a good deal of money — as their products would have suffered at retail stores on military bases as a result of procurement priority given to Accord members.

The Huffington Post describes the intentions behind the NDAA’s ethical sourcing provision:

In the eyes of its crafters, the amendment had a simple underlying message: Markets sanctioned and supported by the U.S. government should be shut off from sweatshop labor…

If passed, the amendment on military exchanges would have been an embarrassment to the alliance, since Congress would have essentially endorsed the accord as a stronger approach to improving safety in Bangladesh. It also would have pressured companies whose clothes are sold in the exchanges to consider joining the accord or face losing business. Alliance leaders asked senators to either insert language putting them on equal footing with the accord or to strip out the accord altogether.

Between December 2012 and May 2013, nearly 1,200 Bangladeshi garment workers were killed in preventable factory fires and building collapses while producing goods mostly for U.S. and European markets. Walmart has responded to the tragedies by refusing to sign the broadly supported Bangladesh Safety Accord and instead proposed its own alternative. In contrast with the accord, Walmart’s plan is a voluntary arrangement without any meaningful enforcement mechanisms, developed without consultation with workers.

In the case of the NDAA, Walmart’s lobbyists were able to help the company again avoid being held accountable for increased safety in the Bangladeshi factories producing goods for the company.

Nine Ways Walmart’s Ruling Family Is Funding a Far-Right Agenda

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The list Buzzfeed doesn’t want you to see
We originally posted this story on Buzzfeed, but without notifying us they took it down yesterday, claiming it was a “personal attack.” We don’t think that sharing factual information about the Waltons’ agenda is a personal attack – it’s just the truth that people deserve to know.

 

A brief guide to the political activities of the Walton family, the majority owners of Walmart. After all, they have enough money to fill a large backyard pool with solid gold.

They’re ruining public schools.

Since 2005, the family has dropped over $1 billion[1] to destroy public schools and treat K-12 education like venture capitalism. They’ve given to myriad voucher, charter school, and corporate education reform advocacy organizations, including the Milton Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice;  union-buster Stand for Children; and Michelle Rhee’s pro-privatization, pro-high stakes testing organization, Students First. Basically, they’ve appointed themselves to make decisions about education because they are rich as hell. Never mind that their pro-privatization approach doesn’t work, and never mind that ending poverty—like maybe among Walmart’s 1.4 million low-wage workers?—would do more than anything else to make kids’ lives and school outcomes better. Plus? Several groups they’ve doled out money to are plagued with scandal.

 

They love haters.

Why

The Waltons use their billions to fund haters like Jason Rapert – the Arkansas legislator who opposes gay adoption, wants to mandate vaginal probes for women seeking an abortion, and still suggests that President Obama was born in Kenya. Rapert’s no anomaly. From 1990 to 2012, 84% of Walton family spending on Congressional races went to candidates with a ZERO (out of 100) rating on women’s issues from the American Association of University Women.

In 2012, Jim Walton contributed $500 to the re-election campaign of Loy Mauch, an Arkansas state legislator who has called the Confederate flag a “symbol of Jesus Christ” and acknowledged membership in the “neo-confederate” secessionist group known as League of the South. It wasn’t until Mauch’s views and Walton’s contribution made headlines that Jim Walton asked that the contribution be returned.

 

They helped create the shutdown.

Since the 2004 election cycle, Walmart has given over $1.5 million to the Republican State Leadership Committee, the group that helped the GOP secure control over the redistricting process before the 2012 elections. That year, Republicans took 54% of House seats despite winning only 45% of the popular vote, enabling them to grind the government to a halt, even without the support of most Americans.

 

They contributed to the rise of Scott Walker and his cronies in Wisconsin.

From 2009-2010, the election cycle that brought Republicans to power in Wisconsin, Alice Walton was the top individual donor to Wisconsin legislators according to WisconsinWatch.org. Alice and five other Waltons were among the top fifteen political donors in Wisconsin legislative races during that election cycle. Since 2010, the Waltons have given $55,000 to Scott Walker, according to Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. The legislative victories they contributed to, combined with the family foundation’s multi-million dollar efforts to fund experiments in school choice in the state, serve as a multi-pronged approach to further their conservative agenda.

 

They tried to prevent gay families from adopting.

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Walmart heir and board member Jim Walton gave $75,000 to Arkansas’s Family Council Action Committee in 2008. At the time, the group was backing a ballot initiative that would prevent gay and lesbian families from serving as adoptive or foster families. Jim Walton’s contribution was equal to 55% of the group’s political spending that year. The measure passed, but the Arkansas Supreme Court struck it down last year.

 

They push their right-wing vision through ALEC.

(With apologies to Alec Baldwin) The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is infamous for promoting legislation that advances a conservative ideological agenda and benefits its members at the expense of everyone else. The organization developed and promoted anti-union legislation in Wisconsin and Ohio, as well as Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB 1070. It has 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 killing of Trayvon Martin. Walmart and the Walton Family Foundation were listed side by side as chairman-level sponsors of the conservative group’s annual meeting in August 2011. Following public pressure last spring, Walmart withdrew from the controversial organization, but the Walton Family Foundation has yet to publicly sever ties with ALEC.

 

They spend their money on the NRA’s top politicians.

Walmart is nation’s largest seller of guns and ammunition. Between the 2010 and 2012 federal election cycles, Walmart’s PAC gave nearly $1 million to candidates endorsed by the NRA. The Waltons gave another half a million to NRA-endorsed federal politicians over that time period, including super PAC funds. In fact, among politicians with 2012 grades from the NRA, 84% of the Waltons’ 2010-2012 cycle contributions went to candidates with scores between A+ and A-.

 

They make super contributions to super PACs.

Mitt-Romney-Laughing

The Waltons gave almost $900,000 to super PACs in the 2012 cycle. Of that, $400,000 went to Restore Our Future, the super PAC associated with Mitt Romney. As of last June, there were only 356 donors—including Jim and Alice Walton—who had given over $100,000 to super PACs…because most of us don’t have that kind of money to spend on our personal agendas.

 

They lobbied to avoid paying their fair share.

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During George W. Bush’s presidency, the Waltons and a host of other wealthy families worked to repeal the estate tax and save a ton on taxes. They hired a lobbyist and contributed heavily to politicians who were on their side, in order to save a fortune from beyond the grave. As a recent feature in Bloomberg confirmed, the Waltons continue to use creative mechanisms to skip out on their bill from American taxpayers.


[1] Based on: 1) Reports of grant funding in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 on the Walton Family Foundation website (and archived versions of the website from the Internet Archive, http://www.archive.org), and 2) A review of donations to candidates for school board positions, education PACs, and charter school ballot initiatives, obtained from campaign finance databases in the following states: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

How Walmart helped lay the groundwork for the government shutdown

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As the government shutdown drags on, many pundits have drawn attention to how gerrymandering has helped give the American people a handful of right-wing Republicans willing to shut down the government as part of their ideological crusade against Obamacare. What has not been widely understood is how Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, is also a top funder of an effort to turn state legislatures red and control the redistricting process.   Perhaps Republican operative and former Bush advisor Karl Rove put it best when he wrote, “He who controls redistricting can control Congress” in a 2010 Wall Street Journal editorial. And with the millions Walmart gives to the Republican State Leadership Committee, the Republican Party’s top influencer of redistricting, Walmart and the Waltons have played a disturbingly significant role.

Shutdowns

The House has seen an increase in “safe” Republican seats since the last shutdown in 1995. Politico describes the difference: “79 of the 236 House Republicans serving during the last shutdown resided in districts that Clinton won in 1992. Today, just 17 of the 232 House Republicans are in districts that Obama won in 2012.”

The result: primaries pose a bigger risk to most Republicans than the general election, and Republicans are engaging in a race to the extreme right. This theory is borne out by Think Progress’ tally of House Republicans who are willing to resolve the crisis and back a continuing resolution like the one passed by the house. As of last Tuesday, there were only 14 such House Republicans, and in their districts Obama averaged 48.8% of the vote in 2012.

Walmart’s role

Walmart is a top donor to the RSLCThis is where Walmart comes in. The 2010 Republican takeover of state legislatures was led by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), a so-called dark money group that can take in unlimited corporate contributions and obscures that money’s origins as it is redistributed to influence state races. A Pro Publica report explains that when it was formed in 2002, the RSLC “was primarily a vehicle for donors like health care and tobacco companies to influence state legislatures, key battlegrounds for regulations that affect corporate America.” But in 2010, the group got a new chairman and a new focus: to influence redistricting.

To control redistricting before the 2012 elections, Republicans would first have to win as many state legislatures as they could in 2010. That year Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Nationally, the GOP’s effort will be spearheaded by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC). Funded by 80,000 donors, it spent more than $20 million in the last election cycle on legislative races and for attorney general, lieutenant governor and secretary of state campaigns.”

The RSLC may have thousands of donors, but Walmart is consistently among the top 20. Since the 2004 election cycle, Walmart has given the Republican State Leadership Committee over $1.5 million, according to data compiled by Open Secrets. In the ongoing election cycle, Walmart is currently the group’s top donor.

Walmart’s record donating to right-wing causes

All of this is in keeping with Walmart and the Walton family’s (which controls Walmart) long history of backing Republicans and right wing-causes, especially at the state level. Since the 2004 cycle, Walmart has spent over $12.7 million in state-level races (not counting its contributions to the RSLC), according to Follow the Money. Nearly 80% of that money went to Republican candidates and party committees. The Waltons, meanwhile, give almost exclusively to Republicans, and in 2010 they helped finance the Republican takeover in a big way. Despite not being from there, six Waltons were among the top fifteen political donors in Wisconsin legislative races during that election cycle. In fact, Alice Walton was the top individual donor to Wisconsin legislators during the 2010 cycle.

It worked

The 2010 GOP strategy worked. Walmart joined forces with the US Chamber of Commerce (which Walmart also funds), tobacco companies, pharmaceutical companies, and others to fund the RSLC and help Republicans win 675 legislative seats and gain control of 12 more legislatures, including places like North Carolina, where it had been over a century since the GOP last controlled the state. Ultimately, Pro Publica explains, “the GOP oversaw redrawing of lines for four times as many congressional districts as Democrats.” So even after Democratic candidates for Congress won 1.1 million more votes than Republicans, the GOP was able to maintain its control of the House.

For $1.5 million over the past decade, Walmart was able to help the Republican State Leadership Committee secure control over the Congressional redistricting process. This in turn gave the Republicans 54% of House seats despite winning only 45% of the popular vote and ample opportunity to grind the government to a halt, even without the support of most Americans.

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