Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Suddenly, The Democrats Like Wal-Mart

Give it to Wal-Mart, they succeed by understanding markets. And now they understand the market of Democratic Party machine politics.

Wal-Mart has taken its lumps lately, especially from the Democratic Party over its treatment of employees. So the company has been courting the new majority on Capitol Hill by doing a lot of the standard stuff: hiring Democratic executives and donating more to the campaigns of Democratic candidates. Its political action committee has given 49 percent of its funds to Democrats this year, up from 32 percent in last year's election.

But last week Wal-Mart's outreach got personal as well -- it's now doing favors for the families of powerful Democratic senators.

Last Tuesday evening, the world's largest retailer sponsored a fancy reception in the Capitol's LBJ Room off the Senate floor to celebrate a yet-to-be-completed documentary about female members of the chamber called "14 Women." The film's three producers include Mary Lambert, the older sister of Sen. Blanche Lincol n (D-Ark.), and Nicole Boxer, the daughter of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Paul Kane of washingtonpost.com reports that the "Wal-Mart" on the name tags was larger than the names of the guests.

The event was a big hit. Wal-Mart said that 12 of the now-16 women in the Senate (11 D's and five R's) showed up -- including Sens. Lincoln and Boxer, of course. One of the senators who did not attend was Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). Clinton is a former Wal-Mart director (something some of her campaign aides would like the public to forget) whose younger brother, Tony Rodham, was once married to Nicole Boxer (something Clinton probably would like to forget).

But Wal-Mart did more to assist the project than pass out canapes and drinks. Last year the company became the movie's corporate sponsor when it handed the producers $150,000 to help complete the film. "Mary Lambert contacted Wal-Mart and wanted to know if we might be interested in helping to underwrite the documentary," said company spokesman Robert Traynham. "We thought it would be a great opportunity to help highlight the contributions that women have made in U.S. history and particularly in the U.S. Senate."

Traynham added that the reception and grant were not forms of backdoor lobbying and had nothing to do with trying to improve Wal-Mart's standing with senators, especially Democratic senators.

Ah, well. If the pork eating surrender monkey Democrats will sell out our troops for spinach subsidies while they are in direct conflict with the enemy, we shouldn't be surprised that that Lee Scott can buy them too.

Always low prices. Always.

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