Did Obama Buy Trouble Shopping for a Budget Chief at Walmart?

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Walmart Foundation president Sylvia Matthews BurwellPresident Obama announced Monday morning that he had nominated Walmart Foundation president Sylvia Matthews Burwell to be his new director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Burwell, who previously headed the Global Development Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, came to the Walmart (WMT) Foundation in 2011. As head of the retailer's charity arm, Burwell was in charge of directing targeted giving campaigns to a wide range of charities and nonprofits.

Walmart and Obama seem like an unlikely pairing, given that the company isn't exactly a favorite of the left. But as we've previously reported, Walmart has teamed up with the first lady by supporting two of her biggest initiatives: hiring veterans and encouraging healthy eating. While we've suggested that the relationship with Michelle Obama was more about public relations than politics, the company is now poised to take that relationship to the next level by getting an executive into the president's cabinet.

That wouldn't be much of an issue if Burwell's job had been simply using Walmart's money to give back to the community, but The Nation has an in-depth look at how this "targeted giving" often coincided with the company's larger goals. For instance, in 2011 the Foundation gave a $200,000 grant to the NAACP; the organization's New York State chapter now says it supports Walmart stores coming to New York City. (A spokesperson for the group denied that the donation played a part in its support of Walmart's bid to build stores in the city.)

The story also observes that the Walmart Foundation regularly gave money to communities where the company has a presence or was planning to expand, including a few where the retailer was embroiled in political fights over expansion and zoning issues. And it also links those charitable endeavors to its larger efforts to influence "elected officials" in key markets.

If Burwell is confirmed by the Senate, she'll have access to the biggest elected official of them all.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.

Photo Credit: Win McNamee, Getty Images

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14 Comments

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weinholdr34

Budget chief will be the easiest job in the Obama's White House. The White House hasn't bothered to to put forth a budget for the Democratic (Socialist) controlled Senate to even vote on for over 4 years now. She will have nothing to do but campaign for Obama.

March 05 2013 at 12:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dgframer

Another example of corporations buying favors. I once believed that the masses would be controlled either by big corporations or big government. Now I see big corporations buying government so it's all the same. Individual freedoms are being sacrificed for the big guys.
Whether you are Black, White, Hispanic or Asian, if you believe in individual freedom, you had better speak up.

March 05 2013 at 11:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rreef1993

After this last rant on the sequester it is about time he gets someone other than a academic t;theorist on his cabinet that has real experience at running something other than their mouths. We are heading for another down grade - yes great leadership.

March 05 2013 at 10:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeb

A cabinet job for Walmart in return for $200,000 to the NAACP!
And the Africanization of America continues.
It's the one area where Barack Obama shows real leadership.

March 05 2013 at 4:34 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jeb's comment
cpo1514

Giving other peoples money away is not leadership... its called Community Organizer. Ask Jesse...

March 05 2013 at 9:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
terry2xxmc

She won't have much to do since the Feds haven't passed a budge in how many years now. Maybe they should cut the position.

March 05 2013 at 1:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark

An expert at giving stuff away? She should fit right in.

March 04 2013 at 10:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
lvh44leo

The new White House Budget Chief maybe even she was fed up with Wal Mart.Well lets hope she has some input on not letting Wal Mart become even larger. Wal Mart alredy has nearly 60% of the Grocery market thats close if not a monopoly in the making and there are laws against Monopolies. One company controling retail Grocery is somsthing Americans will not be able to afford as prices will skyrocket.

March 04 2013 at 9:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ChisnaAlaska

I took the time to look up what the Walmart Foundation does.
And I have to admit..... I was pretty impressed by what
the Walmart Foundation has done.
Even though I might not be crazy about Walmart itself.
One of the groups they support is called growingpower.org
A urban aquaculture / farm that produces quite a bit of food.
And they have people coming from around the world to learn
about what they are doing there.

March 04 2013 at 9:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ChisnaAlaska

I took the time to look up what the Walmart Foundation does.
And I have to admit..... I was pretty impressed by what
the Walmart Foundation has done.
Even though I might not be crazy about Walmart itself.
Here is one of the groups they support http://www.growingpower.org/
Urban aquaculture... Sound's pretty cool to me.

March 04 2013 at 9:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

After firing thousands of older workers they now have access to the White House.

March 04 2013 at 8:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply