SPECIAL REPORT: Wal-Mart Embraces Controversial Causes: Bid to Appease Liberal Interest Groups Will Likely Fail, Hurt Business

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Wal-Mart report coverPublished in 2006 and updated in 2008, "Wal-Mart Embraces Controversial Causes: Bid to Appease Liberal Interest Groups Will Likely Fail, Hurt Business" was written by NLPC Director of Policy John Carlisle. Click here or its cover to the right to download the 24-page pdf version.

The Report details Wal-Mart’s journey from a company that embodied Sam Walton’s bedrock values to a powerful instrument of the political Left. The premise of the Report, that Wal-Mart cannot successfully satisfy anti-business activists, has been confirmed during the current fight over the so-called Employee Free Choice Act. Union-funded activists continue to harass and smear the company for its opposition to “card check.”

The Report has gotten noticed. Carlisle was a guest on Neil Cavuto’s show on the Fox News Channel on February 9, 2007, apparently prompting an appearance on the same show by then-Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott to respond. The June 9, 2008 edition of Newsweek ran an article by Daniel McGinn titled “Is Wal-Mart Too Liberal? Once a Paragon of Red State Values, It’s Being Criticized for Bowing to Political Correctness.”

NLPC sponsored a Wal-Mart shareholder proposal in 2007 that requested the company to disclose its charitable contributions, and provide a business rationale for each. In April 2007, Wal-Mart apologized to NLPC after media reports that the retailer had conducted surveillance of NLPC and other shareholders who filed proposals.

NLPC President Peter Flaherty spoke at the Wal-Mart annual meeting on June 1, 2007 in the Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He said:

Sam Walton had disdain for high-priced public relations specialists. But now Wal-Mart is guided by the liberal Edelman public relations agency and liberal political operatives like Leslie Dach. What do they care about the future of this company?

Andrew Stern, the boss of the Service Employees International Union, is committed to the destruction of Wal-Mart. Yet our CEO holds a joint press conference with Stern to endorse taxpayer-funded, government-run health care. Maybe Mr. Scott thinks he can make friends with Stern. Or maybe he is getting bad advice.

Go outside and look at the price of gas. It is over $3 per gallon. Thank environmental extremists who have prevented refineries from being built. They openly say that gas should be much more expensive, say $5 or $6 a gallon. Yet our CEO has embraced environmental alarmism. If Wal-Mart customers spend all their money on gas, how will they have any left to spend inside the store?

Our CEO invited Al Gore to Bentonville to talk about global warming. If Al Gore gets his way on carbon emissions, there is NO WAY our economy can grow. How is this good for Wal-Mart?

Wal-Mart is forcing so-called green mandates on its suppliers. Mr. Scott says these mandates will increase profits. But I have spoken to Wal-Mart suppliers who tell me Wal-Mart is now getting inferior products at higher prices.

Jesse Jackson slanders this company. The company’s response? Put Jesse Jackson’s crony on the board of directors. Did that shut up Jackson? No, not at all.

And that director, Christopher Williams, in New York City in January, accepted praise from this demagogue Jackson who is still trashing the company.

Of course, we can’t forget the Andrew Young fiasco. Young went out and made racist statements. He defended Wal-Mart on the basis that it puts small stores, owned by Jews, Koreans and Arabs, out of business. So much for diversity!

Wal-Mart is now bankrolling activist homosexual groups that lobby for gay marriage, which was a loser every time it appeared on the ballot in the last election. Maybe that’s why the company opposes our resolution for disclosure of charitable contributions to controversial groups.

Why is Wal-Mart even involved with these issues?

People shop at Wal-Mart because of low prices, not because the company is politically correct.