Republican Party Gets Major Backing from Walmart and Walton Family

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A group that has been critical of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and the way it deals with employees today released a report on political contributions made by Walmart and the family of founder Sam Walton over the past two decades or so. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the report finds that the Waltons and Walmart overwhelmingly supported the Republican party in all national elections since 2000.

The report claims that since the 2000 election, 69% of the political contributions (more than $11.6 million) made by the family and the Walmart PAC were directed to Republican candidates and committees. Some 83% of the Walton family’s contributions were directed to support Republican candidates and causes.

Walmart recently hired a former senior advisor to President George W. Bush, Dan Bartlett, as the company’s EVP for corporate affairs to replace former Clinton administration aide Leslie Dach. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was member of Walmart’s board of directors for six years, from 1986 to 1992, while her husband was governor of Arkansas.

The report places the Walton family fortune at $115 billion and claims that individual family members own more than half of Walmart’s common stock. According to its most recent Form 10-K and proxy statement, as of March 22nd Walmart reported more than 3.29 billion shares outstanding, of which about 1.61 billion shares are held by a family company and another 65 million or so are held by individual family members.

The group behind today’s report, Making Change at Walmart, claims to have “no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with [the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW)] or OUR Walmart as a representative of Walmart employees.” The group’s purpose, it says, is to help Walmart employees in dealing with the company over labor rights and standards.

A couple of observations. First, compared with Sheldon Adelson, CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS), who coughed up $100 million in 2012 alone, the Walmart/Walton family contributions look positively miserly. Second, with more than 50% of Walmart’s stock under family control, it seems that shareholders might be more concerned that so much of the company’s net income is going to stock buybacks.

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