Was Walmart behind a mysterious 2011 investigation into LAANE?

Last spring and summer, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) was the subject of a massive investigation by MB Public Affairs, a right-wing opposition research firm led by Karl Rove operative Mark Bogetich. The firm requested thousands of documents from over 70 elected officials and public agencies in the LA region, costing an estimated $50,000. But the client behind the inquiries and the reason for their interest in LAANE remained a mystery.

Now, on Frying Pan News, LAANE cofounder Madeline Janis speculates about who she thinks was behind the investigation. Her conclusion: Walmart.

Behind the scenes in 2011, Walmart was again preparing an attempt to open several stores in LA. In 2004, the company’s attempt to open a store in Inglewood was squashed by the community when voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have permitted a giant Walmart superstore. Seven years later, the company was back again, hiring a lobbying firm and the soon-to-be-disgraced PR firm, Mercury. Then, in February 2012, Walmart announced plans to open several stores around LA, including a location in Chinatown.

Amid intense community opposition, a coalition of local groups organized a huge march and rally against Walmart this summer. Days before the rally, Walmart spokesperson Steve Restivo took to the Huffington Post to single out LAANE’s work in opposing Walmart.

Ultimately, MB Public Affairs’ investigation vanished into thin air, yielding a big bill and little else, but it’s obvious that Walmart wants into LA and was working to win over decision makers. While acknowledging that the evidence is circumstantial, Madeline Janis concludes,

But, with billboards all over Los Angeles announcing new Walmarts in multiple locations, my money is on Walmart as the culprit behind the mysterious investigation of 2011. And my money is also on LAANE and our partners in Chinatown, along with the brave Walmart workers who recently went on strike, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and numerous churches, small business and community groups throughout the region to hold Walmart accountable to the standard of fairness and responsibility that led to our success in 2004 in Inglewood and L.A.

What do you think?