Clinton Receives $500,000.00 Donation

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 03/19/2008 - 1:00am.

Yes Siree, the world's larges retailer WalMart donated a few bucks to a project of former President Clinton's global foundation.


Lost amid the blistering pace of campaign news was the announcement, made this past Saturday, that Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer had donated a half-million dollars to a project of former President Clinton's global foundation.

The donation, which was made to the Clinton Global Initiative University, will be allocated for educational purposes, including funding college students and encouraging universities to engage on issues such as energy and climate change, global health, and poverty alleviation. And they reflect what some observers say is a growing effort by the retail giant to soften its image within progressive circles.

But Wal-Mart, to a large extent, still remains a pariah among Democrats for its poor labor and environmental practices. And a donation of $500,000 to an individual so closely associated with a leading White House candidate, is more than enough to raise the eyebrows of watchdog organizations.

"We are concerned with all contributions that are this large," said Mary Boyle, the VP of Communications at the non-profit, Common Cause. "They are typically used to buy access and influence. Now I think the question here is what is Wal-Mart trying to gain here? Are they trying to gain access and influence to Sen. [Hillary] Clinton, or do they have another agenda, which could be trying to establish a track record of doing better in the causes of global warming and human rights and poverty. So, I don't know what they are trying to do, but certainly any contribution that large should pique interest."

Aides to the former presidents stressed that neither Clinton nor his foundation would see a dime of Wal-Mart's money and, subsequently, would have no reason to be beholden to the company's political interests.

"The money doesn't go to the foundation. It comes from the Wal-Mart foundation and it will be used to fund those student made commitments and university made commitments," said one aide. "CGI is the entity that makes this all happen. But they don't collect money from Wal-Mart... They are a facilitator."

It is a point watchdog groups concede, but not something that completely alleviates their anxiety. "Is [Wal-Mart] trying to use other vehicles to give large amounts to the other candidates?" asked Boyle. "Certainly Bill Clinton's charity provides a unique vehicle for this."

Complicating this donation is both the lengthy history the Clintons have with Wal-Mart. While serving as first lady of Arkansas, Hillary Clinton also held a position on the Wal-Mart's board. Her tenure, fellow board members have described, was spent pushing the company to appoint more women in management and become more environmentally conscious in its practices. But, given the company's scorned status among Democrats and union-members, Clinton hardly ever talks about this part of her resume.

The former president, in contrast, has not shied away from Wal-Mart. According to Michael Barbaro of the New York Times, he frequently speaks to the realtor's chief executive, H. Lee Scott Jr., about issues like health care. And he has taken on a public presence in pushing for and praising the company's new environmental practices.

But not everyone is buying into the idea of a new-and-improved Wal-Mart. Some see donations like those the company made to the Clinton foundation as merely a ploy to distract attention from the company's still far-from-progressive policies.

"It follows in Wal-Mart's recent attempts to make themselves look like a responsible corporation with their environmental efforts, and then you have Lee Scott who is announcing at meetings that Wal-Mart is not sure when they will reduce their emissions," said Meghan Scott, a spokesperson for Wake-up Wal-Mart, a watchdog group for the organization. "It is important to look at two things; whether their press releases turn into action, or whether it is simply an attempt to curry favor."


Sam Stein - March  18, 2008 - posted at

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 03/19/2008 - 1:00am.