Wal-Mart: Republican or Democrat?

Oct. 23, 2006 — -- WakeUpWalMart.com, a staunch critic of Wal-Mart financed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, begins a voter education campaign today to combat what it describes as Wal-Mart's "war on Democrats" in advance of the elections.

"Wal-Mart's policies are good for George Bush and bad for Wal-Mart associates and America," said Chris Kofinis, a spokesman for the group.

WakeUpWalMart.com says the campaign costs "well over 6 figures" and will run for 15 days until the midterm elections on Nov. 7.

Kofinis said the campaign was in response to a recent report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the world's largest retailer would distribute information about candidates before the election.

"The company is getting in the middle of the election process," Kofinis said.

Wal-Mart: Politics Allegations 'Absurd'

Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar said the retailer was not targeting Democratic candidates.

"That's absurd," he said.

Tovar said that the company communicated with its employees when it believed it was necessary to correct misstatements made by others, including politicians.

But, he stressed, it does so in a nonpartisan manner.

"We have a very open dialogue with our associates on a number of issues that we feel are important."

Wal-Mart recently announced that it planned to launch a voter registration drive in conjunction with the League of Women Voters for its 1.3 million employees in the United States.

It is not unprecedented for companies to hold voter registration drives.

Wal-Mart said that the drive was in response to recent criticism of the company by politicians and that it was not trying to influence how its employees vote.

When the company made the announcement, CEO Lee Scott released a statement that said, "Improving voter registration is a civic goal that all of our country's major institutions should share."

Rallying Cry

Much of the criticism directed at Wal-Mart by several Democratic leaders came at political rallies held by WakeUpWalMart.com.

The group organized a bus tour through 19 states from Aug. 1 to Labor Day on Sept. 4 to highlight its complaints about the nation's largest private employer.

The group focused, in particular, on health care and wages.

WakeUpWalMart.com's Voter Education Initiative will include two TV ads to air in seven states, along with visits to 140,000 homes, 250,000 phone calls, in addition to distributing voter education cards at Wal-Mart stores in more than 30 states.

The group would not disclose how much money it was spending on its TV ad buy.