Help Shine a Light on the Walton 1 Percent!
The Walton Family is the richest family in the United States and one of the richest in the world. The members of the family are heirs to the Walmart fortune and the largest shareholders in the company. Through Walmart, as a family and as individuals, the Waltons spend heavily on lobbying (link to section on lobbying), political contributions (link to section on political contributions) and their foundations. Through their large ownership stake in Walmart and their seats on the company’s Board of Directors, the family also helps set the working conditions for 1.4 million American workers.
Yet, despite the important role the Waltons play in shaping our country and the lives of many Americans, surprisingly little is known about them.
The Walmart 1 Percent is designed to shine a light on the actions of the Walton family and the impact these actions have on average Americans. You can help make the light on the activities of the Waltons and Walmart shine more brightly. Below, we have a provided a list of resources for anyone interested in conducting further research into the Waltons or Walmart.
In addition, though we have decided to focus on Walmart and the Waltons, we encourage and support researchers in their efforts to investigate other corporations. Though Walmart and the Waltons are very prominent, there are many other corporations and families to investigate and we wish you all the best in your research.
In the coming weeks, we will be creating a Walmart 1 Percent Wiki and Discussion boards and we encourage you to share information, discuss research strategies and troubleshoot.
Below, we list some of our favorite sources for information. We’ve broken the resources below into five sections.
- Freedom of Information Act and Open Records Laws (link to sections)
- Political Spending and Lobbying
- Company Information
- Legal Compliance
- Information on Foundations and Non-Profits
- Tracking News and Internet Postings
- The Freedom of Information Act and Open Records Laws
Under the Freedom of Information Act and various state open records laws, you have the right to receive a wide variety of public documents, including budgets, meeting records, lobbying and political contribution information, correspondence and other types of documents.
For State level requests the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has an excellent guide here. Laws at the local level vary. If you have any problems, feel free to post on our Discussion board or email us.
While we have submitted Freedom of Information Act requests and received responses for some information related to the Waltons and Walmart, we know we have only scratched the surface. We encourage you to think creatively about other information to request.
- Political Spending and Lobbying Information
Open Secrets is an online database with information about contributions from both individuals and PACs to candidates and elected officials. Open Secrets also has a great section with information about lobbyists and their agendas.
Some of what we’ve found so far on OpenSecrets.org:
- Walmart’s PAC gave more than $3 million to candidates in federal elections in the 2010 cycle alone.
- Walmart’s PAC and the Walton family give overwhelmingly to the GOP.
- From the 1990 election cycle to the 2010 cycle, the Waltons spent about $4.6 million in federal elections. More than half of that went just to committees associated with the Republican Party, like the RNC, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and others.
- The Waltons have contributed to candidates like Arkansas natives John Boozman and Jay Dickey, as well as faces of the GOP like George W Bush and John McCain.
Follow the Money is a site created by the National Institute on Money in State Politics that can help researchers track corporate and personal political spending at the state level.
Some of what we’ve found so far on FollowtheMoney.org
Carrie Penner (daughter to Rob Walton) and Gregory Penner (son-in-law to Rob Walton and member of the Walmart Board of Directors), (daughter and son-in-law to the Chair of the Walmart Board of Directors, Rob Walton) are consistent contributors to conservative causes in their home state of California.
For example, Gregory Penner gave $250,000 in 2006 to oppose the initiative to create universal pre-school for California children.
The Waltons are also active in states where they don’t reside. For example, Alice Walton was the top donor to Wisconsin legislators in 2009-2010. Five other members of her family were also among the top fifteen individual donors to Wisconsin legislators during that time frame.
Here are some other good sources of information about money in politics.
www.fec.gov – The Federal Election Committee offers access to all of the recent filings for political action committees, candidate committees and other regulated campaign organizations on its website.
CQ Moneyline – http://moneyline.cq.com/pml/home.do – CQ Moneyline is a good source of campaign finance and lobbying data, with campaign donation and spending data back as far as the 1979-80 election cycle. The site also has financial profiles of candidates, PACs, party committees, 527 groups and lobbying firms.
www.campaignfinance.org – This search engine allows you to track the political cash flow across several states in federal and state races as well as the Federal Procurement Database.
MapLight.org http://maplight.org/ – MapLight is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, research organization designed to reveal money’s influence on politics by connecting data on campaign contributions, politicians, votes, industries, companies, and more.
There are many excellent sources for finding company information on the internet. We encourage you to see other excellent corporate research guides, here (AFL), here (CorpWatch) or here (Cornell), to see additional sources. Below, we highlight a few of our favorite sources for company information.
Google Finance – Finance portal containing company profiles, historical stock quotes, institutional ownership, financial data, and much more.
In addition to basic company data (i.e. Walmart had a profit of more than $16 billion for the year ending 1/31/2011), Google Finance also includes a calendar of upcoming events for company investors and a list of key executives.
Securities and Exchange Commission Documents – http://www.sec.gov/edgar/searchedgar/companysearch.html
Search SEC Documents, including 10-Ks and proxy statements.
For example, Walmart’s latest 10-K report tells us that Walmart
Has 2.1 million employees, with 1.4 million in the US alone.
Is working hard to grow internationally. Store numbers, by country, are below and were taken directly from the company’s 10k report.
What does this mean for workers in those countries? What can we do to support research and fact-finding in those countries? Participate in the discussion at the international page of the Discussion forum.
Legal Issues – The 10-K provides an overview of major outstanding or recently resolved legal issues for the company. It is important to note that this list is not all inclusive. The most recent 10-K available includes updates on gender discrimination cases, wage and hour cases, and environmental cases.
Company Proxy Documents – Proxy documents disclose important information about issues to be discussed at company annual meetings. This can include information about the largest shareholders, compensation for executives and members of the Board of Directors, and summaries of issues to be voted on by shareholders.
Walmart’s latest proxy document is here.
Among the pieces of information in the company’s latest proxy:
The Walton Family and their family controlled entity, Walton Enterprises, controls nearly 50% of Walmart stock and that number has been steadily rising in recent years.
Walmart CEO Mike Duke raked in more than $18 million in compensation during the fiscal year ending 1/31/2011.
A Walmart worker making the average wage of $8.81/hour (link) and working Walmart’s version of full-time, which is of 34 hours per week would have to work nearly 1,200 years to earn that much money. (This little gem isn’t in the Proxy!)
Here are some other good sources of information about companies
www.crocodyl.org – a Wiki site created by CorpWatch, the Center for Corporate Policy and the Corporate Research Project. The site has corporate profiles for many corporations and allows users the ability to add new profiles or edit existing ones.
Company Profiles, in-depth financials, full lists of officers, full lists of competitors, products/services/segment data.
Institutional stock ownership information. Listing of major shareholders, recent transaction information. Compiled from Form 13F information.
www.brbpub.com/pubrecsites.asp – Every U.S. corporation, whether public or private, must be registered in one of the 50 states (unless they’ve reincorporated in Bermuda or overseas). These filings can usually be obtained from the state’s Secretary of State office. They are also available electronically via expensive database services such as Lexis-Nexis. More than a dozen states, however, have begun to make this information available for free on the Internet. Check this index of those resources.
- 3. Information about Legal Compliance
www.Pacer.gov – Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is an electronic public access service that allows users to obtain case and docket information from federal appellate, district and bankruptcy courts, and the PACER Case Locator via the Internet.
www.Lexis-Nexis.com – Register with a credit card to search Lexis-Nexis databases legal information, news and public records. Pay for only the materials you view or download. If you’re interested in information about Walmart and the Waltons, let us know. We may already have it, or could help get it.
- 4. Information on Foundations and NonProfit Organizations
www.guidestar.com – A good source for information about non-profit organizations and the foundations that fund them. Among the documents you can access are IRS Form 990 for the Walton Family Foundation, the Walmart Foundation and the organizations they fund. 990 forms disclose information about finances and governance for nonprofit organizations.
www.FoundationCenter.org - Another good source of information on non-profit organizations and foundations. The Foundation Center site provides 990 forms, as well as good background information on legislation and policies impacting the non-profit and foundation worlds.
Please also visit the Walmart 1 Percent Document Vault to download copies of the most recent 990 forms for the Walton Family Foundation (WFF) and Walmart Foundation (WMF) documents.
Public Inspection of records - Although 990 forms and other documents are often available on the sites mentioned above, there is sometimes a time lag before documents becomeavailable. In those cases, it is important to know that IRC regulation 6104(d) requires organizations to provide copies of their three most recent Form 990s to anyone who requests them, whether in person, by mail, fax, or e-mail.
If you wish to request these documents, the Walton Family Foundation can be reached at:
The Walton Family Foundation
P.O. Box 2030
Bentonville, AR 72712
The Walmart Foundation can be reached at:
The Walmart Foundation
702 S.W. 8th St., Dept. 8687, # 0555
Bentonville, AR 72716-0555
Telephone: (800) 530-9925
FAX: (479) 273-6850
E-mail for National Grant Program: email@example.com
Examples of what we’ve already found by reviewing documents from the Walton and Walmart Foundations:
- Among the recipients of funding from the Walton Family Foundation are right-wing organizations including the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the anti-union National Right to Work Foundation and others.
- In 2010, the Walton Family Foundation spent more than $157 million to support the “school choice” movement. This movement generally seeks to divert money from public schools to private schools through policies such as vouchers and charter schools. These donations make the Walton Family Foundation one of the largest funders of the “school choice” movement.
- The Walton Family Foundation spent more than $1.4 billion to fund the Crystal Bridges Museum for American Art, in Bentonville, AR.
- 5. Resources for Tracking News and Internet Postings
Google Alerts are an easy and free way of tracking information about a particular topic on the internet. And, while things can and do fall through the cracks, having effective Google Alerts set up can be a big help in catching news about whatever you’re researching.
You can choose to search just news, or to include blogs, discussion boards, or “everything.” You can also choose to include “all results” or “only the best results,” the latter of which filters out some duplicate hits, but may inadvertently exclude something you’re interested in.
You can also choose whether to have the Alerts delivered to your email or to an RSS reader like Google Reader. Like Google searching in general, you should try to use the most effective search terms. Some tips are here and here.
Lexis-Nexis – If you have access to an account, Lexis-Nexis is a great tool for tracking news and, like Google Alerts, you can set up daily searches that come to your email box.
Walmart 1 Percent News Feed – Be sure to visit The Walmart 1 Percent and Like the Walmart 1 Percent Facebook page to stay up to date on the latest information about the Waltons and other Walmart 1%-ers.