Nation: New Report Questions PAC Tactics of Wal-Mart

Posted April 23, 2008 at 6:28pm

The Center for Public Integrity released a report on Wednesday profiling the recent growth of Wal-Mart’s political arm. The watchdog group focused on a legal but “unusual sweetener” used by the retail titan to seed its political account: matching employee contributions 2-1 with donations to a Wal-Mart foundation.

In 2001, “Wal-Mart’s PAC counted more than 380 contributors of $200 or more,” according to the center’s report. “In 2002, with the incentive in place, the number of $200-plus contributors to Wal-Mart’s PAC zoomed to more than 1,040, and by 2004 it was up to more than 1,240.”

The group also released video clips of company executives pitching management on the new program and circa-2001 Wal-Mart lobbyist Norm Lezy “making the case for the company’s PAC and explaining what it gets for its money.”

“For a PAC contribution, we sat and had an audience with this Senator — eight of us, for an hour and a half,” Lezy said in the video. “We covered every issue that’s important to us and important to you, and let me tell you, you just get that quality time, and that’s the way it works.”

— Matthew Murray

Conservation Voters Endorse a Half-Dozen

Spinning off this week’s Earth Day celebration, the League of Conservation Voters announced five additional endorsements for this cycle, including three in the Wolverine State. This week’s list includes three Democratic challengers, one vulnerable incumbent and one safe Republican.

In Michigan, LCV endorsed state Sen. Mark Schauer (D), who is challenging freshman Rep. Tim Walberg (R) in the 7th district. The environmental group also endorsed former state Lottery Commissioner Gary Peters (D) in his 9th district challenge of longtime Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R).

And for its single Republican endorsement this week, the group called out Rep. Vernon Ehlers as being an environmentally friendly candidate.

Also as part of the Earth Day rollout, LCV endorsed New Mexico Public Utility Commissioner Ben Ray Lujan (D), running for Rep. Tom Udall’s (D-N.M.) open House seat, former Common Cause President Chellie Pingree (D), running for Rep. Tom Allen’s (D-Maine) open seat, and freshman Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.).

— Shira Toeplitz