Michelle Obama Cuts Ties with Controversial Wal-Mart Supplier

By Jennifer Parker

May 22, 2007 6:53pm

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller Reports: Michelle Obama, the wife of democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has resigned her position as director of TreeHouse Foods Inc where she has served since 2005.

"As my campaign commitments continue to ramp up, it is becoming more difficult for me to provide the type of focus I would like on my professional responsibilities," said Michelle Obama in a statement the campaign released Tuesday.

"My priorities, particularly at this important time, are ensuring that our young daughters feel a sense of comfort and normalcy in this process, an that I can support my husband in his presidential campaign to bring much needed change to this county," the statement read.

The forty-three-year-old mother of two has been increasing her presence on the campaign trail, while her husband vies for a shot at being the Democratic nominee for president.

Her position on the board of the company was not without controversy. Many pointed to her role on the board as a direct conflict with her husband’s stance against the company Wal-Mart. TreeHouse Foods is one of the main suppliers to Wal-Mart and Senator Obama has come out against Wal-Mart’s labor practices in the past.

In an exclusive interview Tuesday morning on "Good Morning America," before her resignation, Michelle Obama responded to ABC News’ Robin Roberts who questioned whether her position was a conflict of interest.

"Barack is gonna say what needs to be said, and it’s not going to, you know, necessarily matter … what I’m doing if it’s not the right thing," she said. "He’s going to do what’s right for … the country. He’s going to speak out. And he’s going to, you know, implement his views as he sees fit. … I see no conflict in that."

In a press release today, TreeHouse Inc’s Chairman of the Board, Sam K. Reed said, "We would like to thank Michelle for her dedicated service on behalf of the Company’s shareholders. While we regret her resignation, we understand and respect her decision."

Mrs. Obama still holds her part-time position as Vice President for Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals, although she has hinted that she intends to take a leave of absence in the near future.

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