Christy Walton, Walmart heiress and the world’s richest woman seven years running, neither lives nor is a registered voter in Wisconsin, but she has nonetheless wielded her immense fortune to cast a symbolic vote in tomorrow’s historic gubernatorial recall election.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker—whom you may remember from his star turn in a cynical union-busting effort in 2011, during which he threatened to call the National Guard on peacefully protesting public employees—is facing a recall challenge initiated by Wisconsinites who have had enough of his right-wing politics and efforts to weaken middle-class families. Walker, also known for cutting $800 million in state funding for K-12 public schools, is as much of a fan of school privatization as Walton family members are themselves. That’s probably why Christy Walton contributed $50,000 to Walker’s campaign last month—an amount that an average Walmart worker making $8.81 an hour would have to work full-time for more than three years to earn.
This isn’t the first time that Christy Walton (who lives in Wyoming, hundreds and hundreds of miles from Wisconsin) and her family have tried to distort democracy by inserting themselves into the politics of a state they don’t live in. As the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reported in September 2011, Walton family members—none of them Wisconsin residents—accounted for six of the top ten individual donors to winning state legislative candidates in the 2010 elections that put Republicans in control of the state government. It was under the first budget passed by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-majority legislature that the aforementioned $800 million public school cuts happened.