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Wal-Mart flexes, backs Gov. Arnold
Newspaper reports $1M from retailer and founding Walton family to California governor's causes.
October 31, 2005: 8:39 AM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Wal-Mart and the deep-pocketed Walton family have emerged as big supporters of Gov. Schwarzenegger, giving $1 million to causes he supports, as he vetoed some Wal-Mart "unfriendly" legislation over the past year, according to a published report Monday.

USA Today said one union-backed bill, which Schwarzenegger vetoed early in October, would have forced the state to disclose names of companies whose workers get government health services meant for poor residents.

A second bill vetoed last year would have stopped employers from locking workers inside workplaces -- a policy Wal-Mart (Research) has when employees stock shelves and clean floors after closing hours, the paper said.

According to the report, the bills reflect issues that have spiraled into a public relations nightmare for the world's largest retailer as it looks to expand into the nation's biggest market.

Wal-Mart critics, including Wake-Up Wal-Mart, accuse the retailer of endangering workers by locking them up during certain hours and of reducing its own healthcare costs at taxpayer expense.

The Wal-Mart and Walton political gifts appear in new public campaign finance documents, the report said. The documents also show that the same day Schwarzenegger vetoed the healthcare disclosure bill on Oct.7, his California Recovery Team logged a $250,000 gift from Christy Walton who is the widow of John Walton.

John Walton, son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, died earlier this year.

In the next three weeks, another Schwarzenegger-backed campaign received $250,000 from Wal-Mart chairman Rob Walton and $100,000 from Wal-Mart itself, the paper said.

USA Today said Wal-Mart and the Walton's now rank No. 15 on the list of top 100 biggest donors to the Schwarzenegger-controlled campaign committees, according to the Foundation for Taxpayers & Consumer Rights, a non-partisan government watchdog group.

Schwarzenegger's office and a Walton family spokesman told the paper that there was no connection between his vetoes and the Wal-Mart gifts.  Top of page

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