by Max Brantley
I've been writing recently about Regnat Populus 2012, a grassroots campaign to initiate a state ethics law that, among others, would impose a "Walmart rule" on lobby/legislator relationships. It would emulate the retailer's laudable company rule for dealing with vendors — employees (legislators in the Regnat Populus proposal) may accept no gifts or favors or entertainment from vendors (lobbyists).
If this is such a good thing, a correspondent writes, why doesn't Walmart follow it in dealing with the legislature? A good question and pertinent. A cursory look at lobby reports quickly turns up expenditures by Walmart lobbyist Laurie Smalling on entertaining legislators. Here and also here.
Easy answer. Slopping the hogs pays dividends. The bottom line, not appearance of hypocrisy, is the lodestar for corporate America. Campaign finance contributions fall in this hypocrisy, too, of course. Don't try to buy influence from us, but we'll buy it from YOU.
UPDATE: Thanks to a reader for this link to a summary of Walmarts' federal lobbying effort.
Lobbyists representing Wal-Mart Stores:
Total number of lobbyists: 101 (it lists them)
Total Lobbying Expenditures in 2011: $7,840,000
Subtotal for Parent Wal-Mart Stores: $7,600,000
Subtotal for Subsidiary Walton Enterprises: $240,000