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September 22, 2014

Activists Seek Federal Inquiry Into Walmart's PAC-Charity Link

Labor and advocacy organizations are calling on the Federal Election Commission to investigate Walmart over a program that matches employees' support for the company's political-action committee with gifts to a charity fund for needy workers, The Wall Street Journal reports. An FEC complaint, to be filed Monday, alleges the retail giant is flouting campaign-finance laws by donating $2 to the Wal-Mart Associates in Critical Need Trust for every dollar employees contribute to the PAC.

In related cases, the FEC has ruled similar corporate programs are lawful as long as employees do not get a financial or tangible benefit in return for backing the PAC. Most such programs designate gifts to unaffiliated public charities, whereas Walmart's confers a benefit on workers, said Stephen Spaulding, policy counsel for Common Cause, a signatory to the complaint. A Walmart spokeswoman said the company is confident its policy is lawful.