From the "Personnel is Policy" files
Lee Fang reports:
Recent reports suggest that President Obama is about to nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the president of the Walmart Foundation, as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Her nomination would be a coup for Walmart and its foundation, which under Burwell’s watch has wielded its massive budget to expand the retail giant’s influence at all levels of government and to pave the way for store expansions.
The most recent tax disclosure from the Walmart Foundation, obtained by The Nation, shows that between February 2011 and January 2012, the company gave over $175.68 million in grants to charities, municipalities, churches and various community groups across the country, from the Environmental Defense Fund to Friends of NRA to Puppies Behind Bars. Our review of the foundation’s giving reveals that it has donated considerable cash to groups that have gone on the record to support Walmart during its most contentious political disputes, including the ongoing effort to open stores in New York City. The foundation also donates directly to municipalities, funds groups tied to powerful elected officials and instructs grantees to publicize Walmart’s generosity.
Leslie Dach, who oversees the foundation as Walmart’s most senior executive devoted to political affairs, touted the benefits of the company’s philanthropy during a presentation to investors in October 2010. According to a transcript, Dach described “our reputation” as “a lever” in pursuing the company’s goals, which he said include “new markets,” among them “urban America.” A former Democratic Party operative, Dach also extolled the company’s improved polling numbers among self-identified “liberals” and “moderates.”
Activists allege that Walmart’s charitable outreach is part of a bid to co-opt potential critics and isolate workers demanding changes to Walmart’s labor practices. “They are very clear about the fact that they’re trying to use their political giving as a lever to pry open these markets,” said Russ Davis, the executive director of Massachusetts Jobs With Justice and a leader of the coalition Massachusetts Stands Up to Walmart.
This must be the perfect way to pay back the unions for all their hard work electing Democrats, don't you agree?