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Open Letter from OCA & Other Public Interest Groups to Wal-Mart on Their Political Contributions

Corporate Ethics International  
Friends of the Earth
Basel Action Network    
Dogwood Alliance  
Center for Environmental Health
Environmental Investigation Agency
Corporate Accountability International
Center for Health, Environment and Justice
Greenpeace USA
Computer TakeBack Campaign  
Organic Consumers Association

January 22, 2007

H. Lee Scott
Chief Executive Officer
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Bentonville, Arkansas 72716-8611

Dear Mr. Scott,

As the largest retailer in the world, Wal-Mart's recent attention to the company's environmental impacts is welcome.

In your October 2005 speech "Twenty First Century Leadership" you set some high goals including reduction of Wal-Mart's greenhouse gas emissions, waste, and energy consumption.  We look forward to seeing how this agenda moves forward.

If Wal-Mart is to ever be a true leader on the environment, however, the company must address its political involvement.

In the most recent election cycle, Wal-Mart PAC contributed heavily to anti-environmental candidates. Based on an analysis of contributions in the 2006 election cycle, Wal-Mart PAC gave money to more than 30 Members of Congress who scored zero percent on the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Scorecard for the 109th Congress.

Nearly 40% of your candidate contributions went to Members of Congress who have scored 10% or less on the Scorecard.  And, two-thirds of your candidate contributions went to those who scored less than 50%.  This is a failing record.

Wal-Mart PAC gives contributions to candidates who support and advocate for policies that fundamentally undermine, and indeed dwarf, efforts the company is making to reduce its environmental impacts.

On global warming, for example, you have spoken about the threat posed by climate change and even invited Al Gore to Wal-Mart headquarters to show his film "An Inconvenient Truth." Yet the majority of Wal-Mart PAC's contributions have supported Members of Congress who have actively worked against legislative efforts to curb global warming.  Wal-Mart PAC contributions have also repeatedly supported President Bush, despite his removal of the U.S.  from the Kyoto Protocol and his failure to take any meaningful action to curb global warming.

You have said that you understand that global warming is perhaps the largest problem facing humanity and that you are committed to making real change. Unfortunately, Wal-Mart's political contributions ÀšÃ‚­ both to Congress and the White House ÀšÃ‚­ fly in the face of the company's stated intentions.

Enclosed you will find a report that takes a look at Wal-Mart PAC's contributions during the 2005-2006 election cycle.  We are also releasing this report and letter to the media.  We hope that upon review of this report you will agree that if Wal-Mart is to be a true leader on the environment by cleaning up its products and operations, it must clean up its political act as well.

To this end, we ask that Wal-Mart PAC end its contributions to all anti-environmental candidates.

In addition, as the 110th Congress gets underway, we ask that the company consider how it can bring its political activity in line with its stated environmental commitments.

Ending political contributions to anti-environmental candidates is a critical first step for Wal-Mart on the road to removing itself from politics altogether.  Addressing the company's involvement in the legislative process ÀšÃ‚­ to make sure that your environmental lobbying positions and the environmental voting records of candidates Wal-Mart supports are consistent with your stated intention to lessen your impact on the environment ÀšÃ‚­ is also critically important.  Not to do so undermines your stated environmental goals.

Political influence by corporations fundamentally inhibits the ability of decision makers to make sound public policy, whether to protect the public health and environment, worker and human rights, communities, or otherwise. Thus, as we take on these critical environmental challenges that face us ÀšÃ‚­ on global warming and energy, among other issues essential to human health and welfare ÀšÃ‚­ we do hope that Wal-Mart will make choices that demonstrate the true leadership that is needed.

We look forward to hearing from you shortly on these matters.  Please contact Mari Margil at Corporate Ethics International at (503) 478-0890 or mmargil@corporateethics.org, or David Waskow at Friends of the Earth at (202) 222-0716 or dwaskow@foe.org.  Thank you.

Sincerely,

Corporate Ethics International
Friends of the Earth
Basel Action Network
Dogwood Alliance
Center for Environmental Health
Environmental Investigation Agency
Center for Health, Environment and Justice
Greenpeace USA
Computer TakeBack Campaign
Organic Consumers Association
Corporate Accountability International