April 26, 2005

Like shooting fish in a barrel...

Another "corporate connection" that came to light when looking into the Santorum / Accuweather connection was Senator Santorum's ties to Wal-Mart. We all know that Wal-Mart is a die-hard Republican organization so far as their dollars go. Using the search engine at OpenSecrets, we can enter "WAL-MART" as the "OCCUPATION / EMPLOYER of donor", tick the boxes for the 2000, 2002 and 2004 cycles, hit enter and find 241 recorded donations with an aggregate total of over $415,000.00. Sorting these by Amount gives this first couple entries:
Contributor	Occupation	Date		Amount		Recipient
WALTON		WAL-MART  	11/4/2002	$150,000	RNC/Repub National State Elections Cmte
PENNER		C.F.O.	6/17/2004	$25,000		Republican National Cmte
WALTON		CHAIRMAN	5/23/2003	$25,000		National Republican Congressional Cmte
PENNER		WAL-MART	9/26/2002	$15,000		RNC/Repub National State Elections Cmte
SCOTT		WAL-MART	8/17/2000	$10,000		Republican National Cmte
WALTON		CHAIRMAN	6/23/2004	$10,000		Republican National Cmte
PENNER		EXECUTIVE	6/3/2004	$5,000		New Republican Majority Fund
WALTON		OWNER	12/26/2001	$5,000		Leadership in the New Century
WALTON		PART-OWNER	9/24/2002	$5,000		San Diego County Republican Central Cmte
WALTON		WAL-MART	5/19/1999	$5,000		New Democrat Network
WALTON		WAL-MART	10/6/2000	$5,000		Republican National Cmte
WALTON		EXECUTIVE	12/21/2001	$5,000		Fund for a Free Market America
PLEASE NOTE: The Open Secrets website is a wonderful resource but: #1) - if you perform a search and save the URL of that search, you don't always get the search back again, many times it shows a "no records found" error. I am not posting the URLs of the searches any more but I am telling you the key words I used so you can do your own. #2) - they use a funky table layout (not XML) for their results page. If I post from any search (like I did above) it may display really strangely and/or be edited heavily. I will remove data to try to make it fit (first names and addresses in this case) but I do not change wording or numbers.
Back to the post... In fact, the corporation is so Republican, the only two contributions for John Kerry were from two different Pharmacist employees, one in KIRKWOOD,MO giving $500 and one in CHEEKTOWAGA,NY giving $250. Awwww... Searching for Santorum and Wal-Mart gives nothing at all but Wal-Mart also runs a Political Action Committee which is even more active than the individual Walton family and their employees. The PAC (Wal-Mart Stores) spent over $2.7M in the 2004 election cycle and $1.4M in the 2002. There we find $10K to Santorum in 2004, and $6,500 to Santorum in 2000 (also $500 in 1998). And you wonder why stories like these keep cropping up: From the Philadelphia Attytood:
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Wal-Mart)
We hear that Pa. Sen. Rick Santorum hasn't been spending much time of late in his adopted hometown of Penn Hills near Pittsburgh, the town that spent nearly $34,000 (NOTE: SEE UPDATE) to educate the senator's five kids while they were living in a luxury home in Virginia.

So Santorum probably doesn't even know that his neighbors are upset that a new Wal-Mart is coming to Penn Hills, so upset they held a meeting last night to complain about everything from traffic to the mom-and-pop stores that will likely be driven out of business.

But even the folks back in Penn Hills could get close enough to Santorum to complain, he might not hear them. Especially over the din of Wal-Mart corporate jet -- the jet that recently chauffered the Republican around the Sunshine State while Santorum alternately mugged for the cameras on Terri Schiavo's death watch and raised some $250,000 in campaign cash from deep-pocketed Florida donors. Under federal election rules, Santorum only need reimburse the retail giant at the rate of first-class air fares to Florida and not for the real cost of the lavish chartered travel.

When that story was broken earlier this week by our Daily News colleague John Baer, most of the outrage focused -- and rightfully so -- on the fact that Santorum had cancelled a public meeting on Social Security reform "out of respect" for the Schiavo family but didn't cancel his closed fundraising events.
And more -- it seems that Rick has his own PAC:
Lobbyists who work for the firms hired in recent years by Wal-Mart to represent its sweeping political interests -- including Patton Boggs, Cassidy and Associates and Ernst & Young, have given at least $21,793 more, most of that to a Santorum controlled political action committee called America's Foundation.

What does Wal-Mart get out of the relationship? Well, it's clear there's a huge overlap between what the retail monolith wants and what Santorum actually works for in Congress...when he's not busy assailing "judicial tyranny" or a "culture of death" for the TV cameras.

For example:

Overtime and minimum wages: It's hard to imagine an issue of greater importance to Wal-Mart -- the nation's largest low-wage employer. The overtime issues may be the most critical, because in recent years, Wal-mart has faced dozens of lawsuits over not paying its workers for overtime.

This winter, between the time that Wal-Mart PAC gave the $10,000 to Santorum's campaign and the jet trip to Florida, Santorum introduced an amendment for a sweeping overhaul of the nation's minimum wage and related overtime laws.

Santorum's amendment, which failed, would have raised the minimum wage, but only to $6.25 an hour, or about a dollar less than Democrats are seeking. More important was the overtime provision. Under Santorum's proposed rule, an employee could work 50 hours one week and 30 hours the next, but not receive overtime for that additional ten hours. Democrats noted that millions of workers might lose overtime pay.

Tort reform: Santorum is a major supporter of new proposals to limit lawsuits, including one that would move most suits against large companies from state to federal courts. Guess what? Wal-mart and its ally, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, support this as well. Maybe that's because Wal-Mart is facing the largest class-action suit in history, a gender-discrimination case involving 1.5 million female employees.

As this article notes, Wal-Mart has given at least $1 million to the Chamber of Commerce, whose PAC gave $9,500 to help Santorum get re-elected in 2000. It also states:

Wal-Mart, the retailer many experts consider the most-sued company in America, stands to benefit from the new class-action law, which is designed to cut down on lawsuits and big verdicts by steering some cases into federal courts, away from state courts with track records of siding with plaintiffs and awarding multimillion-dollar verdicts, according to policy experts.
Lots more goodness at the Attytood website... This guy is like a hole in the ground, the more you dig, the more dirt you come up with... Posted by DaveH at April 26, 2005 5:54 PM

I used to work for Wal-Mart and I find TFH8496's comments pretty funny. Not long after I started working for them, they decided that paying people time and a half for working on Sundays was too expensive so they decided that people who started at a certain time would only make a dollar extra an hour and people who had started working there earlier than that would be grandfathered. Now I understand they are trying to force people who get time and a half to not work on Sundays period. Furthermore they have had to find ways to improve their health care benefits because for some people, $80 a month is pretty steep. Especially if you only take home $600 or $700 a paycheck. Wal-Mart brags about how they pay an average of $9.00 an hour to their full time employees. Well that is chicken feed compared to how much it costs to pay rent, utilities, and buy groceries. Also full time is between 28-34 hours a week. A lot of full timers work two jobs. An assistant manager was fired because he would get on the computer and cut people's time down so they wouldn't have overtime and he would look good. So in other words, people were not getting paid for the time they worked. It's a good thing that the computer reveals who all does what and when otherwise these people would have been screwed out of money. They had to receive backpay. I was injured on the job that required a trip to the emergency room and my assistant manager told me I needed to stay and clean up the store. What they call "zoning". Every year they hold anti-union meetings and require department managers to watch films talking about how evil and devious unions really are. That's because they keep their stores purposefully understaffed so they can force people to do the jobs of three people but only pay them for one job. They also have this retarded habit of building several stores in one area and then whining about how sales are going down in the stores that are already there and threatening workers with job loss if the sales don't go up. What are you supposed to do? Put a gun to people's head and tell them they better shop at Wal-Mart? I remember working in one area of the store where all the guys got merit raises and I didn't. Even though I worked harder than the guys did. I think in my entire time at that company, I saw one merit raise and I was there for over ten years. The door greeters are all senior citizens and I've seen managers walk up to these elderly people and scream at them. That's TFH8496's idea of values? I was raised to respect my elders, not treat them like garbage.

Posted by: PAAS at October 3, 2005 5:25 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?