Saturday, June 07, 2014

City Council sends letter to Walmart, telling it to stay away from New York

Staff New York Business Journal

Walmart has long viewed New York City as a prime target for future expansion, but has faced opposition from numerous elements, particularly unions and Democratic politicians. As recently as March 2013, the company faced such staunch resistance it said it would hit the brakes and slow down its efforts to establish a beachhead within the five boroughs.

Now, however, New York City Council members believe Walmart (NYSE: WMT) is trying to buy its way into the market through charitable donations, according to a report by the New York Post. More than half of the council's members put their names to a self-described "cease-and-desist" letter accusing the company of trying to buy influence and support by donating at least $4 million, total, to several area charities, the report said. The Post noted that Walmart's owners, the Walton family, have also provided millions of dollars in funding for charter schools through the Walton Family Foundation, some of which are in New York, and that also represents a key political fault between the retailer and the city's established politicians in power.

The flap comes as a recent study by an activist group explicitly opposed to Walmart indicated the Waltons have given a tiny amount of their personal wealth to the Walton Family Foundation. As described by Gawker, the group Walmart 1 Percent calculated that the Walton heirs have amassed a total of $140 billion in personal wealth, but over the past 23 years have donated about $58.49 million to their own foundation, or 0.04 percent of their net worth.

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