Claim:   Walmart is funding Al Sharpton.


MIXTURE:






TRUE: Walmart has donated money to the National Action Network, an organization founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton.
 
FALSE: Walmart is giving money to Al Sharpton directly to support an anti-police agenda.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail and Facebook, December 2014]


It’s been posted on facebook that Walmart is funding Al Sharpton’s race war. This is the first I’ve heard of it and was wondering if it were true. If not Walmart, then who?
 

Please say this newest announcement of Walmart supporting Al Sharpton is NOT true! Sam Walton was a GREAT man and is probably ROLLING OVER IN HIS GRAVE! Shame on the LAURIES!!!! I used to shop Walmart for the convenience of having everything in one place. NO MORE!!!! Gas is down so I don’t mind going to multiple stores to STAY AWAY FROM WAL-MART and RACISM!!!!! WAL-MART = RACIST
 


A simple yes or no answer is all I want from you. No excuses. As a deputy sheriff in Beauregard Parish, Louisiana is it true you are pumping millions of dollars into al sharpton campaign against cops? Like I said a simple yes or no answer is all I want. If you delete this this I will take that as yes you do support the race baiting, cop killing advocate and walmarts does the same.


 

Origins: On 22 December 2014, the conservative lobbying group National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) published an article titled “WalMart Asked to Stop Bankrolling Sharpton After New York Police Murders.” In that article,

founder Peter Flaherty outlined his group’s grievances with civil rights activist Al Sharpton and the retailer’s purported links to him. Iterations of the letter republished elsewhere were labeled “breaking,” suggesting the connection between Walmart and Sharpton was a recent development and therefore worthy of urgent attention.

Flaherty’s organization, largely focused on anti-union initiatives and “agitators,” stated a larger gripe with Sharpton as well as its intent to release a book about his overall activities



We ask that Walmart end its financial support of Al Sharpton and his organization, the National Action Network (NAN).

The cold-blooded murder of two New York City police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, follows weeks of Sharpton’s vilification of law enforcement personnel.

As you know, Walmart has helped bankroll Sharpton for years. Most recently, the company was a sponsor of Sharpton’s 60th birthday party in New York City, which reportedly was a fundraiser for NAN that raised a million dollars.

We have repeatedly raised the issue of your support for Sharpton, including at the Walmart annual meeting. You cannot lay any claim to corporate social responsibility as long as you write checks to Sharpton.

Other corporations support NAN, and we will be making the same request of them, but Walmart is the biggest and most prominent corporation funding Sharpton. It is essential that Walmart lead the way in disassociating corporate America from Sharpton’s demagoguery.

Police officers are working people whose dedication and professionalism help keep us all safe. They are also Walmart customers and shareholders. You can demonstrate your support for law enforcement by ending your support for Sharpton without delay.


One of the first distinctions to make when parsing the NLPC letter is its conflation of Al Sharpton the individual with the National Action Network (NAN) group. The latter, while founded by Al Sharpton, is a civil rights organization with a broad scope of focus.

By NPLC’s own admission, Walmart was not called out for its unique relationship with Sharpton; rather, NPLC chose to harness ambient tensions following the murders of two NYPD officers and prior unrelated protests with which Sharpton was only tangentially connected. (NLPC also cited a book about Sharpton in the works.)

The New York Daily News published an article in October 2014 about Sharpton’s birthday and NAN fundraiser and explained many large corporations have donated to his civil rights group:



ATT and the developer Forest City Ratner paid for full page ads at what was called the “Activist Level.”

GE Asset Management and Walmart saluted NAN with half-page ads at the “Preacher Level.”

The Humane Society, billionaire Ron Perelman’s holding company MacAndrews & Forbes, McDonald’s, DC37, Verizon and the Partnership for New York City got in at the lower “Track Suit Level” at the back of the book.


A 2008 New York Post column critical of Sharpton’s fundraising methods named other companies from which NAN had received donations:



Anheuser-Busch gave him six figures, Colgate-Palmolive shelled out $50,000 and Macy’s and Pfizer have contributed thousands to the Rev. Al Sharpton’s charity.

Almost 50 companies — including PepsiCo, General Motors, Wal-Mart, FedEx, Continental Airlines, Johnson & Johnson and Chase — and some labor unions sponsored Sharpton’s National Action Network annual conference in April.


Flaherty was quoted in the 2008 article as stating:



I think this is quite clearly a shakedown operation. He’s good at harassing people and making noise. CEOs give him his way because it is a lot easier than confronting him.

Sharpton retorted in the same piece that:



That’s the old shakedown theory that the anti-civil-rights forces have used against us forever. Why can’t they come up with one company that says that? No one has criticized me.

Ultimately, Walmart is not funding Al Sharpton personally, it (among other corporations) has donated to National Action Network, a civil rights organization founded by Sharpton. NAN has espoused causes involving cases of alleged police brutality, but it is not an “anti-police” organization. The link between Walmart and NAN dates to at least 2008, and the lobbyist group currently targeting Walmart has been objecting to corporate donations to NAN for several years.

Last updated:   28 December 2014