Oct. 28, 2004 – The Associated Press reports that Wal-Mart has given more than $2.4 million to California political campaigns this year, including hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight Proposition 72, a measure that would require employers to provide basic health insurance to workers.
"Many of our opponents are trying to use the political system to stop our growth," Bob McAdam, Wal-Mart's vice president of corporate affairs, told the Associated Press. "And we are not going to sit back and take it without responding. We will respond."
The contributions include $160,000 to the California Republican Party to use in legislative races, and nearly $70,000 to fund candidates and measures in Antioch and Lodi where Wal-Mart has proposed building new stores.
The retail giant announced it would give opponents of Proposition 72 some $500,000 after a TV ad started running accusing Wal-Mart of costing taxpayers $32 million a year in health care expenses for the companyâ€™s insured workers.
Critics say the company is unfairly influencing political campaigns. "They are so large and have so much money that they can overwhelm the traditional democratic process," Greg Denier, spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, told the AP. "This company isn't just the largest employer in the US, they are the largest employer in the majority of the states. I don't think people have ever confronted something like Wal-Mart before."