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Walmart Spends Big to Help Anti-Environment Candidates

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Breaking The Chains page and our Environment and Climate Resource Center page.
In 2006, Walmart made headlines when its vice president for corporate strategy and sustainability, Andrew Ruben, told a congressional committee that the company "would accept a well-designed mandatory cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases." Other major U.S. companies had spoken favorably of cap-and-trade, but Walmart made a bigger splash. Not only was it America's second-largest corporation; it also had deep roots in the country's coal-burning heartland.

But even as Ruben was delivering his testimony, Walmart's political action committee (PAC) was funneling a river of campaign cash into the coffers of lawmakers who would ensure that the U.S. did absolutely nothing to curb its greenhouse gas emissions. During the 2007-2008 election cycle, 80 percent of Senate campaign contributions that came from Walmart's PAC and large donors employed by the company went to senators who helped block the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill, according to data on political giving published by the Center for Responsive Politics. (When the bill arrived on the floor in 2008, it came up 12 votes shy of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster.)

Over the last decade, Walmart has emerged as one of the country's largest funders of political campaigns. Its dollars skew heavily in favor of candidates who routinely vote against the environment. Since the company launched its sustainability campaign in 2005, 40 percent of the $3.9 million it has given to members of Congress went to those who have lifetime scores of 20 or less on the League of Conservation Voters' National Environmental Scorecard -- meaning they vote against the environment 80-100 percent of the time. Another 19 percent went to those who vote against the environment 50-79 percent of the time.

Walmart's largest donations have gone to some of the nation's most powerful climate-change deniers. Since 2005, Walmart's PAC has given $25,000 to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio ("the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical"); $30,000 to Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. ("there isn't any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth"); and $29,500 to Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark. ("you can look back at some of the previous times when there was no industrialization, you had these different ages, ice ages, and things warming"). 


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