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The New York Times reports this morning that Wal-Mart has found that conservative research groups such as the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the Manhattan Institute have turned into reliable allies, authoring newspaper opinion pieces, giving interviews and even offering sworn testimony supporting the company’s philosophy, tactics and strategies.

However, it appears that it isn’t just Wal-Mart’s mindset that is appreciated by these groups. Because when they express their opinions, they generally haven’t mentioned that they all get funding from the Walton Family Foundation, which is controlled by company founder Sam Walton’s three children.

Two-and-a-half million dollars worth of funding, in all, over the past six years.

According to the Times, the organizations all maintain that “the donations from the foundation have no influence over their research, which is deliberately kept separate from their fund-raising activities. What’s more, the pro-business philosophies of these groups often dovetail with the interests of Wal-Mart.” And Wal-Mart maintains that the family foundation does not provide the funding in order to influence the organizations to support its activities.
KC's View:
We feel strongly that when people write op-ed pieces for newspapers, if they have a financial connection to anything about which they are writing, they ought to disclose that connection.

While we concede that Wal-Mart and the groups have a lot in common other than money, the very existence of a funding relationship undermines the credibility of all sides.