Apparel retailers, like other sectors, are knee-deep this election year in making campaign contributions through company political action committees. While the presidential race has the most visibility, the PACs also support House and Senate candidates deemed friendly to industry issues such as lowering taxes and import tariffs. The retail PAC coffers are filled with contributions from executives who can, by law, give up to $2,000 to Federal candidates and $5,000 to PACs.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. 2004: Gave $2,539,538; cash on hand — $108,790; party breakdown: 79 percent to Republicans, 21 percent to Democrats. 2000: Gave $667,805; party breakdown: 85 percent to Republicans, 14 percent to Democrats, 1 percent to other. Wal-Mart’s PAC has ballooned since 2000, when the company spent $667,805, with the majority going to Republican candidates. The company is the most generous retail political booster by far. This campaign season, chief executive officer Lee Scott gave the maximum $2,000 to Bush, while the company’s PAC donated $5,000. Jay Allen, senior vice president for corporate affairs, raised upward of $100,000 for the President, garnering the Bush campaign’s Pioneer status. Wal-Mart is concerned with lowering global trade barriers, health reform and opposing a federal minimum-wage increase.
Sears, Roebuck & Co. 2004: Gave $295,221; cash on hand — $264,373; party breakdown: 66 percent to Republicans, 33 percent to Democrats, 1 percent to other. 2000: Gave $109,330; party breakdown: 70 percent to Republicans, 30 percent to Democrats. Sears is concerned with reforming bankruptcy laws, but its efforts have so far been thwarted. Since the company reopened its lobbying office in Washington in 2001 after a hiatus, it has become more active in political affairs. The company’s chairman, Alan Lacey, donated the maximum $2,000 to the Bush reelection effort.
Target Corp. 2004: Gave $279,526; cash on hand — $36,634; party breakdown: 73 percent to Republicans, 26 percent Democrats, 1 percent to other. 2000: Gave $138,500; party breakdown: 58 percent to Republicans, 42 percent to Democrats. Target Corp. executives provided personal financial support for Bush. The company hires a local lobbyist to keep a daily eye on Congressional and agency issues on trade, labor regulations and health care reform, but its main lobbying operations are based at its headquarters in Minneapolis.
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