Analysis: Walmart Heirs are the Least Charitable of America’s Richest Billionaires

Share Button

The Walmart heirs are donating very little of their growing $145 billion1 in wealth and lag far behind their peers at the top of The Forbes 400, according to a new analysis by the Walmart1Percent of charitable giving by America’s ten richest people between 2008 and 2013.

Rob, Jim, Alice, and Christy Walton currently hold positions 6 through 9 on The Forbes 400 and should easily place in the top ten once again when Forbes releases the 2014 update later this month.

The Waltons, who own and control Walmart and are the richest family in the country, receive approximately $8.6 million per day in Walmart dividends. Despite this incredible wealth, the Waltons contributed just $17.6 million to charity between 2008 and 2013, a little more than two days’ worth of their Walmart dividends. Over the same period, Warren Buffet contributed $8.4 billion to non-profit organizations – 477 times more than the Waltons combined. The least generous of the top ten, other than the Waltons, is the industrialist Charles Koch. Even he gave 11 times more than all four Waltons combined.

Table: Walton family giving lags well behind that of other richest Americans

These differences in giving are not correlated with disparities in wealth among the top ten billionaires. The Waltons contributed just .012% of their combined net worth. Rob Walton, the long-time chairman of Walmart, contributed just $10,000, about .00003% of his $35.2 billion net worth. Meanwhile, the top three givers in the group – Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Michael Bloomberg – each gave away between 9% and 12% of their net worth. The next three – Larry Ellison, and David and Charles Koch – each contributed at least .44% of their net worth.

The Waltons have a history of giving far less substantially than their peers and average Americans.

  • A report released by Walmart1Percent earlier this year found that the Waltons have contributed almost none of their own wealth to the Walton Family Foundation and use the Foundation to avoid an estimated $3 billion in estate taxes each year.3
  • None of the Waltons have signed The Giving Pledge, an initiative by Gates and Buffett to get the world’s billionaires to commit to giving away a majority of their wealth during their lifetime, or at their death.4 The top four givers on the Forbes list – Buffett, Gates, Bloomberg, and Ellison – have all signed the pledge. Only the Waltons and the Koch brothers have not.5
  • Since 2000, The Chronicle of Philanthropy has compiled an annual list of the top 50 American contributors to charitable organizations.6 None of the Walmart heirs discussed here has ever appeared on that list.

The Waltons, majority owners of Walmart, have been widely criticized as exemplars of, and contributors to, widening economic inequality in the United States (see here, here, and here).7  And while the family’s wealth compounds at an astonishing rate, most Walmart workers make less than $25,000 per year.8 Americans for Tax Fairness found recently that Walmart’s low wages force many Walmart workers to rely on food stamps and other public benefits, costing U.S. taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion annually.9


A note on the methodology used to conduct this analysis

The analysis reported here uses publicly available information to compare charitable contributions made from 2008 through 2013 by the individuals who occupy the top ten spots on Forbes’ “Richest People in America” list. Each of the individuals included in the analysis is associated with one or more private charitable foundations, which are required to report contribution data to the IRS on Form 990-PF. These reports provide the main source material for the analysis. A non-profit organization’s Form 990 is a public document, routinely available from a variety of sources, or by request from the IRS or the organization. However, to the extent that the individuals in question make undisclosed charitable contributions to other entities, this analysis may underestimate their charitable giving. We have confidence in the overall accuracy of our analysis based on a review of information published by the most reputable journalistic source on matters of philanthropic giving by the wealthy, The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

In order to calculate charitable contributions we first identified private charitable foundations associated with each of the individuals and tallied contributions from the individuals, as reported on the foundations’ annual IRS filings (Form 990-PF) for the years 2008 through 2012. The foundations included in the analysis are: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust (contributions from Bill Gates and Warren Buffett); The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation (contributions from Charles Koch); the David H. Koch Foundation (contributions from David Koch); the Howard G Buffett Foundation, The Sherwood Foundation, The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, and The  NoVo Foundation (contributions from Warren Buffett); The Bloomberg Family Foundation (contributions from Michael Bloomberg); and The Lawrence Ellison Foundation (contributions form Larry Ellison); and The Walton Family Foundation and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (contributions from the Waltons).

For 2013, the contribution data  are based on reporting by The Chronicle of Philanthropy and online databases maintained by The Chronicle.10 These sources yield the following findings for contributions during 2013, which have been included in the overall totals for each individual: Warren Buffett ($2.34 billion); Bill Gates ($181.3 million); David Koch ($101 million); Larry Ellison ($72.2 million); and Michael Bloomberg ($452 million).

Footnotes

1The Forbes 400: The Richest People in America,” Forbes (Retrieved September 5, 2014).
2The World’s Billionaires,” Forbes (Retrieved September 15, 2014).
3Report: Phony Philanthropy of the Walmart Heirs,” The Walmart1% (June 3, 2014).; Zachary R. Mider, “How Wal-Mart’s Waltons Maintain Their Billionaire Fortune,” Bloomberg (September 12, 2013).; Americans for Tax Fairness, “Walmart on Tax Day,” (April 2014).
4The Giving Pledge: FAQ” (Retrieved September 7, 2014).
5The Giving Plegde: Pledger Profiles,” (Retrieved September 7, 2014).
6 For the most recent list, see: “A Look at the 50 Most Generous Donors of 2013,” The Chronicle of Philanthropy (February 9, 2014).
7 Robert Reich, “What Walmart Could Learn from Henry Ford.” (November 16, 2013).; “How the Wal-Mart Heirs Got Their Wealth,” Moyers & Company (May 11, 2014).; Amy Traub, “Retail’s Choice: How raising wages and improving schedules for women in the retail industry would benefit America,” Demos (June 2014).
8 Sourcewatch, “Walmart,” (Retrieved September 8, 2014).
9 See footnote 3
10 Maria Di Mento, “How The Chronicle Compiled the Philanthropy 50 List,” The Chronicle of Philanthropy (February 9, 2014;“A Look at the 50 Most Generous Donors of 2013,” The Chronicle of Philanthropy (February 9, 2014).; America’s Top Donors, online database. The Chronicle of Philanthropy (retrieved May 27, 2014).

New Yorkers Oppose the “Walmartization” of Education

Share Button
AQE-Walmartization

Source: Alliance for Quality Education

In an opinion piece at amNewYork, the Alliance for Quality Education and Walmart Free NYC sound the alarm about the Walton family’s efforts to undermine public schools in New York.

The authors note that the Walton Family Foundation, run by the Walmart heirs, “has spent more than $1 billion since 2000, pushing ‘reforms’ that move us toward a privatized K-12 system run by entrepreneurs and investors rather than educators.” And they say the Waltons are spreading millions around New York to promote the “Walmartization” of education there.

New Yorkers deserve to know what the Waltons mean when they talk about education “reform.” They want to apply the business model of Wal-Mart to public schools: more corporate control, more profit for companies and lower-paid workers. We fear their goal is the Walmartization of public schools.

Over the last five years, the Waltons have pumped millions into expanding publicly funded, but privately operated charter schools in NYC. But they have not spent a single dollar lobbying to increase investments in resource-starved public schools in our state.

Low-income students and students of color in public schools are disproportionately affected, as their education is destabilized and treated as the least worthy of investment.

Yet, even as the state fails to fulfill its constitutional duty to adequately fund public schools, the Waltons seek to divert much-needed tax dollars to charter school operators. New Yorkers want strong public schools in all communities and access to the highest-quality education for all children.

Unfortunately, more ad campaigns and advocacy from the Waltons will only leave our students, families and communities worse off.

You can read the full article at amNewYork.

 

Wal-Mart, Don’t Discount the Power of Teachers

Share Button

The following guest post is from Amber Rain Chandler, a teacher in western New York.

At the end of July, I was inundated with Facebook posts telling me about Wal-Mart’s Teacher Appreciation Week. How were teachers like me appreciated exactly? We could get an e-card for 10 percent back on “qualifying” purchases of supplies, basically a glorified gift card for the store.

But let’s be clear: Teachers know that Wal-Mart is not giving us or our schools anything meaningful to genuinely make a difference in the education of our kids. To the contrary, Wal-Mart’s “appreciation” for teachers has been to spend an incredible amount of money to discredit and shut out the voice of teachers, who are the ones who are the closest to students and need to be involved in the decisions about their education.

In New York state, Wal-Mart has been funneling massive amounts of money to privatize education and all but wipe out public education. In the past few years, the Walton Family Foundation has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to New York groups leading the push to “reform” schools using charter schools and vouchers. One of these groups spent more than $50,000 on the last two Buffalo school board races. How will our community in western New York move forward when research shows that what works is not privatization, but giving students in public schools a rich curriculum with well-supported, well-trained teachers, and the right mix of academic interventions, wraparound services and other needed resources. Privatization is Wal-Mart’s magic bullet. If Wal-Mart truly wants to make an impact on education, it could start with helping to overcome the unrelenting poverty in the city of Buffalo and the widening academic achievement gap, or by providing funds for enough language teachers to address the huge English-as-a-second-language (ELL) population in western New York. Educators, parents and school boards need to recognize that Wal-Mart’s “philanthropy” is in name only; instead, it is shamelessly creating generational poverty. When students come to school from homes where parents have lost their jobs, and where parents’ work does not provide a living wage, the students suffer.

Sure, with the deep school budget cuts over the past several years, I can understand why schools are so tempted to grab whatever cash they can get. Budget cuts have decimated the teaching staff, creating larger class sizes and the loss of electives. Can I attribute this directly to Wal-Mart? No, but they have influence with groups that promote privatization over fixing our neighborhood public schools. Educators do not want any part of a Wal-Mart agenda.

Wal-Mart’s ads about its appreciation for teachers are not really about helping teachers or students. Rather, it is all about a public relations scheme to appear supportive of education while luring shoppers to patronize its stores. The reality is that many of us would rather shop at a store that not only provides discounts, but also honors American values and genuinely values public school teachers.

So, I’m countering those Facebook posts and ads with messages of my own. During this back-to-school season, I’m letting my friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook know that I’m not shopping at Wal-Mart. Instead, I’m sharing the facts to show another side of Wal-Mart’s happy face.

Teachers won’t be fooled with coupons. We’re not going to put money behind a corporation that doesn’t have our students’ best interest at heart.

My message to Wal-Mart is simple: Don’t discount the power of teachers.

 

AmberAmber Rain Chandler teaches seventh-grade English Language Arts at Frontier Middle School in Hamburg, N.Y. Amber also teaches Methods in English Teaching at Medaille College and leads staff development on Differentiation for the Southtown Teachers Center.

This post originally appeared on MomsRising.org.

The Waltons – Charity Begins at Home

Share Button

For the Walton family, charity does, indeed, seem to begin at home.

Yesterday, Bloomberg released a feature detailing how the Waltons have become today’s Rockefellers, amassing the largest family fortune in the country at a time of extreme inequality and taking advantage of tax avoidance schemes to preserve it. Or, to quote Gawker’s headline, “The Waltons Are the Greediest Family in the World.”

The Waltons, as we know, have a climbing fortune currently worth about $115.7 billion. The United States is experiencing record-setting levels of inequality, and the Waltons are leading the way as the face of the 1%. They have more wealth—built on the backs of their underpaid workforce at Walmart—than the bottom 42% of American families combined.

Bloomberg reporter Zach Mider goes into detail about the tax loopholes available only to ultra-wealthy families like the Waltons, and how they use these tricks to avoid paying taxes on wealth passed down from generation to generation. He writes,

The Waltons’ example highlights how billionaires deftly bypass a tax intended to make sure that the nation’s wealthiest contribute their share to government rather than perpetuate dynastic wealth, a notion of fairness voiced by supporters of the estate tax like Warren Buffett and William Gates Sr.

The Waltons are America’s biggest users of a particular type of charitable trust that actually allows the donor to pass money on to heirs after an extended period of time, without having to pay the much-debated estate tax. Mider explains, “A donor locks up assets in these trusts, formally known as charitable lead annuity trusts, or CLATs, for a period of time, say 20 or 30 years. An amount set by the donor is given away each year to charity. Whatever is left at the end goes to a beneficiary, usually the donor’s heirs, without any tax bill.”

Of course, most Americans aren’t in a position to keep their money out of reach for decades at a time. And for that matter, most Americans aren’t in a position to owe estate taxes either. The Waltons, though, are exactly the type of people who would normally pay estate taxes and exactly the ones who are trying time and again to avoid it. An accountant interviewed in the Bloomberg story estimated that just one of the Waltons’ twenty-one charitable trusts would result in $2.2 billion for Walton heirs. According to Treasury Department estimates, closing the two loopholes the Waltons seem to use would raise more than $20 billion over the next decade.

If there was any question about who is the face of income inequality in America, Bloomberg just answered it.

Political affiliations reveal another side of Yahoo! and CEO Marissa Mayer

Share Button

Yahoo ALEC Logo Graphic

Part 1 of a series: The American Legislative Exchange Council

The escalating controversy over Yahoo! CEO and Walmart director Marissa Mayer’s support for a Silicon Valley lobbying group prompted us to look more closely into her political activities. What we found was a little surprising, given Mayer’s reputation as a liberal and major Obama supporter.

It turns out that both Mayer and Yahoo! are affiliated with groups responsible for advancing policies that seem out of step with mainstream values. In this post, we look at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that has been backed by Yahoo!, and which also enjoys close ties to the Walton family, majority owners of Walmart.

ALEC supports the Big Oil agenda (Source: ThinkProgress)

ALEC: A modern-day version of the smoke-filled room

ALEC is basically a modern-day version of the proverbial smoke-filled room; a place where corporate special interests can gather with sympathetic state legislators to hammer out and promote a self-serving legislative agenda. Greenpeace sums it up this way:

ALEC links state legislators with some of corporate America’s largest and most dubious players—Exxon, Koch, coal giant Peabody Energy, and Reynolds Tobacco for example—to create model state legislation. State legislators who pay a small fee to become ALEC members are granted access to a large pool of draft bills and resolutions created by representatives of the corporate giants who finance ALEC, some of which also help govern the organization.

Despite public outcry, Yahoo! seems to be sticking with ALEC

Although ALEC is highly secretive about its membership, a document unearthed by Common Cause shows that Yahoo! Director of State Government Affairs Bill Ashworth was a member of the ALEC Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force as recently as August 2011. Over the last year, a number of corporations have responded to public outrage over ALEC’s record by publicly disaffiliating from the group. There is no indication that Yahoo! has done so.

We do know that Yahoo! is currently listed as a member of the eCommerce trade group NetChoice, and that NetChoice Executive Director Steve DelBianco has been active in ALEC for over a decade. In fact, DelBianco was recently named ALEC’s Private Sector Member of the Year.

Protesters call attention to ALEC’s role in promoting Stand Your Ground legislation. (Photo © PRWatch; Source: PolicyMic)

ALEC: Pursuing corporate-friendly legislation

ALEC’s scope of activity is enormous, as documented by the Center for Media and Democracy, but here are a few choice examples of ALEC’s legislative work (hat tip to Greenpeace):

Walmart is one of forty-nine corporations that have publicly disaffiliated from ALEC since the group became the target of widespread protests last year (the Walton family, which owns a majority of Walmart stock, has not renounced its ties to ALEC).  This is one area where Marissa Mayer might be well-advised to follow in Walmart’s footsteps.

 

Many Call for Walmart 1% to End Its Support of ALEC

Share Button

This week, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is holding its annual meeting in Chicago. Today, thousands gathered outside the meeting to show their opposition to ALEC’s right-wing “model legislation.” Some of those present chose to highlight the ongoing role of the Walmart 1% in ALEC.

ALEC has faced a growing drumbeat of concern from citizens troubled by the group’s corporate-sponsored politicians and legislation. Drug companies, tobacco companies, the Koch brothers, and more are associated with ALEC, which offers corporations the opportunity to modify and create legislation with state legislators behind closed doors.

Last spring, Walmart, Amazon, McDonald’s, the Gates Foundation, and many others left ALEC following intense public pressure. In 2011, the Walton Family Foundation and Walmart were listed side by side as chairman level sponsors of ALEC’s annual meeting. According to our analysis, since 1990, Walmart’s PAC and Walton family members have given more than $1 million to politicians who have been board members or state chairs of ALEC.

Unlike Walmart and some of the Waltons’ peers in the foundation world, the Walton Family Foundation has not responded to calls to sever its ties with ALEC. And two other members of the Walmart 1% are affiliated to corporations with ALEC ties.

  • Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!. Although ALEC is highly secretive about its membership, a document unearthed by Common Cause shows that Yahoo! Director of State Government Affairs Bill Ashworth was a member of the ALEC Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force as recently as August 2011. Yahoo! is led by Walmart board member Marissa Mayer, who is facing increasing controversy over some of her other political activities.
  • Steven Reinemund, Exxon Mobil Board of Directors. Walmart director Steven Reinemund, Dean of Business at Wake Forest University, also serves on the ExxonMobil board. An Exxon Mobil executive currently sits on ALEC’s 14-member Private Enterprise Council.

ALEC has become notorious for backing some of the most controversial state laws in recent years, especially ones that attack public education, the environment, and civil rights. ALEC championed the Stand Your Ground laws associated with the killing of Trayvon Martin. In fact, a Walmart executive co-chaired the ALEC task force that endorsed Stand Your Ground. The group is a leading champion of voter ID laws that serve to disenfranchise the poor, people of color, and the elderly in particular. ALEC-endorsed bills would use taxpayer dollars to subsidize private schools, evade protections in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and eliminate job protections for teachers. Recently, ALEC has also been found leading the push to weaken or repeal the minimum wage.

Why Does the Walton Family Foundation Donate Every Year to Organization with Anti-LGBT Policies?

Share Button

Revelation Comes on Heels of Growing Concern about Walmart and Walton Family and LGBT Community

We’ve written recently about Walmart’s poor track record with the LGBT community and with the Walton Family’s support for an anti-LGBT agenda. From company policies to family political contributions, a worrisome image of an anti-gay empire is emerging, concerns that were expanded on in a recent article in Out magazine.

As the richest family in the nation, the Walton Family has many avenues to exert their influence. One of the ways they do this is by funding organizations through the Walton Family Foundation. Their ties to one such organization—Christian missionary group Young Life—haven’t received the attention they deserve up until now. Young Life is a Christian missionary organization that has a specific prohibition on gays or lesbians serving as staff or volunteers with the organization.

Young Life’s staff manual reads, in part:

With regard to the delicate matter of homosexual lifestyle and practice, in the light of the biblical data regarding creation, Young Life believes such activities to be clearly not in accord with God’s creation purposes.

On the basis of these theological affirmations which flow from our understanding of the Scriptures, we therefore must state very clearly that Young Life staff members and volunteers shall not engage in sexual misconduct.

We do not in any way wish to exclude persons who engage in sexual misconduct or who practice a homosexual lifestyle from being recipients of ministry of God’s grace and mercy as expressed in Jesus Christ. We do, however, believe that such persons are not to serve as staff or volunteers in the mission and work of Young Life.

When did the Walton Family Foundation give to Young Life, you ask? Answer: Every single year, since 2002, according to our analysis of the Walton Family Foundation’s 990s. Why are the Waltons associating themselves with an organization that bars gays and lesbians from serving as volunteers and staff? If the Walton Family Foundation, a consistent donor, wanted to encourage Young Life to adopt a more inclusive policy, it seems likely they would listen.

To echo the words of Out magazine, “It’s time for the Walton family and the Walmart board to reconsider the importance of its LGBT employees and the LGBT market.”

While Walmart Gun Sales Rise…

Share Button

Walmart and Walton Family Big Funders of NRA-Endorsed Candidates

A number of tragic incidents in 2012 brought gun control and the forces shaping American public policy on the issue—like the National Rifle Association and the American Legislative Exchange Council—into the spotlight. But while Walmart’s role as the nation’s largest seller of guns and ammunition has been widely reported, their role in supporting a pro-gun political agenda has not been widely understood.

Between the 2010 and 2012 federal election cycles, Walmart’s PAC gave just over $1 million to candidates endorsed by the NRA, based on our analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics and NRA Political Victory Fund grades and endorsements. 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, 87% of the Waltons’ 2010-2012 cycle contributions went to candidates with scores between A+ and A-.

Beyond their direct support for NRA-endorsed candidates, Walmart and the Walton family have also helped support a pro-gun agenda through their participation in the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC, a membership organization made up primarily of companies and conservative state legislators, produces right-wing model legislation that is then introduced in state legislatures nationwide.

ALEC’s pro-gun efforts have included opposing bans on semi-automatic weapons and opposing waiting periods for background checks. ALEC also helped propagate the notorious “Stand Your Ground” law linked to the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida last February. The “Stand Your Ground” law, which initially shielded Martin’s shooter from arrest in weeks following the killing, came out of an ALEC working committee co-chaired by a Walmart executive in 2005.

Last year, amid public pressure, Walmart withdrew from ALEC. The Walton Family Foundation appears to still be a member of ALEC though, despite the fact that civil rights leaders and others have called on them to withdraw from the organization too.

As the country’s biggest seller of firearms and ammunition, Walmart has relied on gun sales to improve its dismal performance. In 2011, Walmart reportedly began stocking more guns to boost its flagging same store sales. Last month, Walmart pulled the type of assault rifle used in the Connecticut shootings from its website in the days following the attack, but it was available in about 1,700 stores nationally. The move belies Walmart and the Walton family’s support of pro-gun politicians and the company’s reliance on gun sales.

While Walmart uses guns to boost its sales and the Waltons make billions off of Walmart, they continue working behind the scenes through political giving and the Walton Family Foundation’s membership in ALEC to undermine public safety.

 

Some figures updated 4//18/13 to reflect additional information on 2012 election contributions.

Chicago teachers strike against corporate education interests and for better schools for kids. Guess which side the Waltons are on?

Share Button
CTU march in Chicago

CTU solidarity march, 9/10/2012 (photo from Chicago Jobs with Justice)

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union are on strike, in a “fight for the soul of public education,” according to a CTU organizer. On one side in this fight are teachers who are advocating not only for themselves but for their students too, calling for smaller class sizes, expanded student support services, and a broad curriculum that includes art and music classes. On the other side are right-wing, anti-teacher education reformers like the Walton family, who, as we’ve seen, have a keen interest in undermining America’s public schools and are one of the largest funders of the right-wing education reform movement nationwide.

Indeed, the Walton Family Foundation has given more than $1 billion to corporate-style education reform initiatives, including millions[1] to the pro-voucher, pro-privatization Alliance for School Choice, where Walmart heir Carrie Penner is also a member of the Board of Directors. In Chicago, in 2011 alone, the family spent more than $3 million funding organizations like Stand for Children, which pushed through state legislation that weakens teachers’ job protections and tried to make it harder for Chicago’s teachers to take a stand for themselves and their students by going on strike.

It’s no surprise that the Waltons are involved in a brand of education reform that is so fiercely anti-teacher—they and their family company are notorious union-busters, and we consider their education efforts a continuation of Walmart’s anti-worker policies. (The family’s foundation has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the anti-union National Right to Work Foundation in the guise of “shaping public policy” in education.[2]) Teachers and their allies understand what the favored policies of the Waltons and their friends in Chicago are about, though, and know what’s at stake: As the Chicago Tribune reported yesterday, many view the corporate reform efforts in their city “as a brazen attempt to shift public resources into private hands, to break the power of teachers unions, and to reduce the teaching profession to test preparation.” That’s not the teachers’ vision for Chicago’s public schools and that’s why they are courageously fighting back.


[1] Nearly $5 million total in just 2009, 2010, and 2011.

[2] More than $300,000 total in just 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Open Letter to the Walton Family Foundation

Share Button

As civil rights leaders, we are writing to call on the Walton Family Foundation to follow in Walmart’s footsteps and end your ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). As you know, many other companies and organizations, including your own company Walmart, PepsiCo, Coca Cola, Kraft Food Inc., Blue Cross Blue Shield, Procter & Gamble, Amazon.com and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have already cut ties with or distanced themselves from ALEC and their positions.

The history and values of Walmart and those of the Walton family are intertwined. We would expect that the wide divide between some of ALEC’s activities and Walmart’s purpose which prompted your company to ends its membership in ALEC would make the Walton Family reconsider its support of ALEC as well. We are disturbed that, despite your company’s image about support for Civil Rights, you are funding an organization that has helped to propel serious attacks on our communities. And, we were further troubled to learn that Walmart and the Walton family have given more than $1 million to politicians with close ties to ALEC and its agenda.

Among the elements of the ALEC agenda we are most angered by your support of the so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws. We were deeply troubled to learn that a Walmart executive co-chaired the ALEC task force that endorsed the Stand Your Ground law.

As the largest seller of guns and ammunition in the country, Walmart and your family may be blinded to the impact of guns and pro-gun laws on our nation and in our communities. The impact is very real.

We are also deeply concerned about ALEC’s role in promoting voter suppression laws. Supporters of discriminatory voter suppression laws claim they want to reduce voter fraud (individuals voting illegally, or voting twice). But such fraud almost never occurs, and never in amounts large enough to affect the result of elections.

Voter suppression laws prevent large numbers of eligible voters from casting a ballot, and could disenfranchise as many as 5 million people. And, it is clear that these laws have the effect of disproportionately disenfranchising the low-income voters, people of color, and the elderly. This runs counter to the Walton Family Foundation’s stated goal to increase opportunity and improve the lives of others.

In this moment when your company and your family are facing widespread criticism for apparent violations of the law and of unethical conduct, we sincerely hope that you’ll take this opportunity to reconsider your course.

We urge you to immediately follow in Walmart’s footsteps and sever ties with ALEC and to publicly voice your opposition to Stand Your Ground and voter suppression laws.

Sincerely,

Reverend Jesse Jackson
Founder & CEO Actor & Political Activist
Rainbow Push

Danny Glover
Actor & Political Activist

Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.
National Chair Executive
National Council of Black Women

Gary L. Flowers
Director & CEO
Black Leadership Forum, Inc.

Dr. Iva E. Carruthers
General Secretary
Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, INC.

Dr. Jeremiah Wright
Pastor Emeritus
Trinity United Church of Christ

Dr. Bernard Lafayette
Chairman of the Board
Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Bertha Lewis
President & CEO
The Black Institute

Melanie
President & CEO
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

Campbell Patricia Ford
Founder & CEO
DeElla & Associates, LLC

Reverend Graylan Scott Hagler
Senior Pastor
Plymouth Congregational United Church

Gwen McKinney
CEO
McKinney & Associates PR

William “Bill” Lucy
Founder & President
Coalition of Black Trade Unionist

Dr. Earl Trent
Senior Pastor
Florida Avenue Baptist Church
Washington, DC

Bill Fletcher
Author & Executive
Black Commentator.Com

Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway, Sr.
Editor Senior Pastor
Union Baptist Church
Baltimore, Maryland

Rev. Arthur Waidmann
Retired Minister, United Church of Christ

Legal Disclaimer: UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees. Judges have preliminarily enjoined non-Associates who are part of the UFCW International or OUR Walmart from entering Walmart property in Arkansas (read the order here), Florida (read the order here), Texas (read the order here), Colorado (read the order here) and Maryland (read the order here). A California judge has enjoined non-associate agents of the UFCW and OUR Walmart from engaging in certain activities inside CA Walmart stores. Click here for a copy of the order.