While most media attention this week concerning Walmart’s L.A. expansion plans has understandably focused on the cloak-and-dagger shenanigans of self-confessed corporate spy Stephanie Harnett, the mounting local opposition to Walmart has taken on serious political overtones. At the same news conference at which Secret Agent Harnett revealed her identity, Congresswoman Judy Chu vowed to refuse Walmart campaign contributions and encouraged her colleagues to do the same.
“I have never accepted a dollar of Walmart money and I will never take Walmart money,” Chu told a gathering of reporters on Wednesday. “I call on all Los Angeles elected officials not to take Walmart’s money — and to give it back if they’ve accepted those contributions in the past.”
The June 13 event was held across the street from the Chinatown location where Walmart hopes to open a 33,000-square-foot grocery store. Walmart’s dream is the nightmare of local businesses and Chinatown community leaders, who see the incursion of the retail giant as a threat to the small-store culture that has always reigned in the neighborhood. Labor groups, concerned Walmart’s low wages and lack of basic employee benefits, have also pledged to fight the store’s entry into the downtown L.A. market. And they have called on all local elected officials to do what Chu did this week and say no to Walmart’s largesse.