A new report by Demos on federal campaign spending and lobbying by the nation’s top earning big-box retailers concludes that the practice is “large and growing, and targeted at maintaining their economic power through political influence.”
As you can see in the chart below, big-box retailers including Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot, have dramatically upped their political ante since 2000, when they spent $5.2 million on elections. In 2014 big-box store political spending jumped to $29.2 million, a nearly six-fold increase.
Figure I: Federal political spending by top big-box retailers, by year, 2000-2014 (2013 dollars)
Two retailers below, Wal-Mart and Home Depot, are among the top 100 political donors overall since 1989. While Wal-Mart doesn’t spend much on their associates salaries, they sure do spend big on political campaigns and lobbying.
Figure II: Federal political spending by the top big-box retailers, by company, 2000-2014 (2013 dollars)
Wal-Mart has dramatically increased their spend since the turn of the century. Companies like Wal-Mart, Demos reports, use “campaign contributions and lobbying to leverage their economic power into law.”
Figure III: Wal-Mart political spending by year, 2000-2014 (2013 dollars)
And keep in mind that these numbers aren’t even the whole story. As Demos notes in its executive summary, the totals above “massively underestimate retail’s reach by excluding state and local elections, as well as contributions to 501(c)3 and 501(c)6 groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Chamber of Commerce.”
Read the entire report at the Demos website.