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Wal-Mart lobbied government for $1.4 million

/ Source: The Associated Press

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, spent nearly $1.4 million in the second quarter lobbying the federal government on union matters, cargo security and other issues, according to a recent disclosure form.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based company, which has 1.3 million domestic employees, lobbied on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Wal-Mart and the Retail Industry Leaders Association mounted a successful legal challenge to a Maryland law that required companies with more than 10,000 workers to devote at least 8 percent of its payroll to paying for employee health insurance. The judge ruled that ERISA pre-empted the state requirements.

The Employee Choice Act, over which Wal-Mart has drawn criticism for having politically partisan sessions with employees, was also listed, as was the Family Medical Leave Act and the American with Disabilities Restoration Act, according to the form filed July 21 with the House clerk's office.

Wal-Mart Vice President of Corporate Affairs Raymond Bracy is listed on the reporting form as the company's lobbyist. The form shows he also lobbied regarding a variety of tax issues and on legislation regarding Chinese imports and China's currency.

The filing touches on more than government relations; it also mentions items on Wal-Mart's shelves. For instance, the company lobbied for the suspension of duties on Christmas tree lamps, whistles and ski equipment.

Wal-Mart also weighed in on a bill on identity theft protection, on draft legislation that would make organized retail crime a federal felony and require resellers of property to verify items have not been stolen.

Wal-Mart also lobbied on several energy bills, including one to improve the nation's electric grids. Other bills were on conservation and energy independence.

Though Wal-Mart draws customers from all walks of life, the company is quick to note that its core customers are poor — 20 percent of Wal-Mart shoppers don't have checking accounts. The disclosure shows that Wal-Mart lobbied on a food stamps provision in an Agriculture Department bill. Bracy is listed as working to promote the company's $4 prescriptions and other health-related aspects.

The company also lobbied on Medicaid coverage of prescription drugs, abstinence education, tamperproof prescription pads, border security and emergency preparedness issues.

Besides Congress, Wal-Mart lobbied the departments Health and Human Services, Commerce, Treasury and other agencies in the April-June period.