CORPORATE PHILANTHROPY & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
“Los Angeles Unions Try a New Tack in Wal-Mart Battle.” By Tamara Audi. Wall Street Journal. July 2, 2012. Chinese dragon dancers, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and thousands of others marched and chanted Saturday against a Wal-Mart store being built in this city’s Chinatown. A quieter Los Angeles offensive against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., however, is gaining attention across the country: Unions here are pressuring politicians to reject or return the retailer’s campaign donations as a way to curb the company’s influence as it tries to expand in major cities. The unions are trying to make contributions an issue even as Wal-Mart doesn’t appear to have a history of donations in Los Angeles. The company last gave money to Los Angeles races in 2004, when city campaign records show the company contributed $1,000 to city council member Bernard Parks’s failed mayoral bid. From 2002 to 2011, Wal-Mart spent $12.3 million in corporate funds on political activities nationwide, according to a 2011 report from the Center for Political Accountability, a nonpartisan group that tracks political spending. In that same period, Wal-Mart spent $3.2 million in California on state and local candidates, parties and ballot measures, according to the center. Between 2009 and early 2011, unions spent $4.1 million on local campaigns in Los Angeles, according to Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy.
“Microsoft Founder, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, Each Donate $100,000 For Marriage Equality.” Huffington Post. July 2, 2012. According to the Associated Press, Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, and Ballmer, the company’s CEO, have each written $100,000 checks to Washington United for Marriage, a same-sex marriage advocacy group based in Seattle. In February, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the state, and the law was to go into effect on June 7. But that was put in hold last month when opponents gathered enough signatures to put the the bill up for referendum in the November general election. According to its website, Washington United for Marriage “is a coalition of organizations, congregations, unions, and businesses working together to defend civil marriage for loving, committed same-sex couples.” A Microsoft spokesperson told The Huffington Post that the company doesn’t comment on political contributions made by employees, including the CEO. Gates and Ballmer aren’t the only high-profile members of the technology community to make significant contributions for marriage equality. Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook and the editor-in-chief of the New Republic, promised Mainers United for Marriage that if the campaign raised more than $100,000, he and his now husband, Sean Eldridge, would match the donation, according to the Bangor Daily News. Mainers United for Marriage announced last month that it had raised more than $120,000. For its part, Microsoft endorsed legislation for marriage equality for same-sex couples in January, writing on the official company blog that “passing this bill would be good for our business and good for the state’s economy.” Microsoft joins a number of technology companies that have come out in support of marriage equality, including Amazon, Apple and Google.