Tell Walmart and the Walton Family: Drop ALEC!

Tell Walmart and the Walton Family: Drop ALEC!

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 FollowTheMoney.org 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.

What do you think?