Eight things to know about Walmart’s new image guy

Dan Bartlett, Walmart's new EVP of Corporate Affairs

Walmart announced this week that it has hired former Bush administration official Dan Bartlett to replace Leslie Dach as the company’s top image polisher (officially, EVP of Corporate Affairs).

While some thought Walmart had gone soft by hiring former Democratic operative Dach in 2006, they’ll make no such mistake this time. Here are eight things to get you introduced to the man who will be out there greenwashing and using the Walmart Foundation as a “lever” to help the company achieve its goals.

  1. Bartlett got his start working for Karl Rove’s consulting firm in Texas.
  2. He was quickly picked up by George W. Bush’s Texas gubernatorial campaign in 1993, when he was just 22 years old.
  3. Eventually, Bush wound up in the White House, and so did Bartlett. He started out as deputy assistant to the President and deputy to the counselor to the President in January 2001. By the time Bartlett left in 2007, he had served as White House Communications Director and ultimately as Counselor to the President.
  4. Texas Monthly describes Bartlett’s communications style, which sums up the Bush White House pretty well:

The 52-person communications shop he controlled was famous for its lockdown discipline and airtight message control. Reporters often complained about how stingy it was with information and how stubbornly it clung to the designated message du jour.

  1. After leaving the White House, Bartlett joined PR firm and lobbyist Public Strategies, which later become Hill + Knowlton Strategies US. Before Walmart picked him up, Bartlett was president and CEO of H+K US.
  2. At H+K, Bartlett helped bailed out banks like Goldman Sachs burnish their public images. And Public Strategies once did crisis communications for a natural gas company following an explosion that killed an elderly couple.
  3. H+K are also experienced greenwashers, having helped to keep petrol taxes low on behalf of the American Petroleum Institute and campaigned for deregulation for the American Truckers Association. They list Athabasca Oil Sands Corp as a client too. H+K describes its work to help AOSC keep “a low public profile, enabling AOSC to obtain the necessary regulatory approvals for the $2 billion transaction.”
  4. As expected, the former Bush aide makes political contributions to Republicans. In late 2011, he contributed to the campaign of controversial Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. Abbott is known for threatening to arrest election observers in 2012; telling gun-owning New Yorkers to come to Texas; and, most recently, calling Democrats in Texas a more dangerous threat than North Korea.

Looks like Walmart has found just the man for the job.

What do you think?