Cleveland Plain-Dealer via Houston Chronicle:
...This is pretty funny. It is pretty clear that these guys are just posturing for their union base, but when the times comes to make a purchase, like everyone else in a capitalist system they look for the best product at the best price and in many cases wind up at Wal-Mart. It would be irrational to do otherwise.
Records reviewed by the Plain Dealer of Cleveland show that political organizations headed by these politicians — as well as John Kerry, Wesley Clark, the liberal activist group America Coming Together and the feminist group Emily's List — have spent money at Wal-Mart over the last 2 1/2 years.
Leaders and advisers of these groups have criticized Wal-Mart or are lobbying to stop Wal-Mart's spread in several cities.
They say Wal-Mart symbolizes the human cost of relentlessly pursuing lower retail prices: low pay and insufficient benefits for the chain's employees, and the financial destruction of small merchants.
Why, then, have their aides been cruising Wal-Mart aisles with their bosses' money?
Robert McAdam, Wal-Mart's vice president of corporate affairs, suspects he knows.
"We serve so many people because we're the place that's convenient to go and at low prices," said McAdam, who disputes the criticisms leveled at his employer. "So if you're in charge of managing precious resources for a campaign, which traditionally always struggle to have the right amount of money they need, I can't imagine they'd make any other choice."
The politicians have a different take: Their staffs messed up.
The Plain Dealer tracked the purchases of office supplies, food and other items through a database of campaign finance records maintained by Political Money Line. The biggest Wal-Mart spender among its critics: John Kerry's failed presidential campaign, with $7,196. Kerry had said Wal-Mart offered inadequate health insurance, and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, said Wal-Mart was "destroying communities."
The campaign of Howard Dean, now Democratic Party chairman, spent $4,396 when he was running for president, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $4,262. Clark, who ran for the Democratic nomination, spent $1,875.
These expenditures are especially noteworthy because of the anti-Wal-Mart activism of former Dean and Clark advisers and staffers. Dean political operatives Buffy Wicks and Jeremy Bird in April helped launch Wake-Up Wal-Mart, a campaign financed by the United Food and Commercial Workers union. A Clark adviser, Chris Kofinis, is Wake-Up Wal-Mart's communications director.
Kofinis said he could not speak to the Clark campaign's expenditures. But he said: "When I was with the Clark campaign, I was focused on electing Clark. The Wal-Mart issue was not on my radar. I'm not being a hypocrite about it."
The same goes, he said, for a number of others.
Wal-Mart is not buying it.