Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

There are many reasons to oppose Obama, whose paltry legislative record disqualifies him for the Presidency.  That he would cite state legislative experience during a Presidential campaign as a qualification already reveals to this voter how underprepared he is for the Presidency. 

But the real reason I oppose him is his wife's deep connections to WAL-MART.  Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times published an article about this highly controversial connection in May.  According to Sweet, Michelle Obama is no longer connected to the company.  But this was not a decision Michelle Obama made on her own volition.  Following the lead of her husband's vague campaign, Michelle Obama quit the company that ties her deeply to WAL-MART.  According to Lynn Sweet,


Michelle Obama resigned Tuesday from the board of TreeHouse Foods Inc., a Wal-Mart vendor, eight days after husband and White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said he would not shop at the anti-union store.


I guess Obama's attempt to pander to AFL-CIO union voers in Trenton, NJ, created a conflict with one of the Obama family's sources of income. 


Michelle Obama sat on the Board of this Wal-Mart friendly company since June 27, 2005, or just a few months after Obama was elected to the US Senate.  Michelle Obama, also a VP of The University of Chicago Hospitals in charge of "community outreach," did not have experience in the private sector before serving on the Board of the WAL-MART ally.  In fact, she chose to pursue the Board position in order to gain experience in the private sector, and this experience was made available to her after her husband was elected to the US Senate.  According to

the London Telegraph,


[S]he has just been re-elected to the board of an Illinois food-processing company, a position she took up two years ago to gain experience of the private sector.


She was reelected to the lucrative post on April 19, 2007, or three months after Barack Obama began actively campaigning for the Presidency.


But how did she obtain the position?  According to Lynn Sweet, she undertook the position with the WAL-MART ally in order to gain experience in the private sector.  Here is a summary of her experience before serving on the Board of a WAL-MART ally:


A Harvard-trained lawyer, Michelle Obama began her career as an attorney at the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin, and later went to work at Chicago City Hall and at the non-profit group Public Allies, a leadership program for young adults.


And she holds the sinecure of part-time VP at the University of Chicago Hospitals while working for the WAL-MART friendly vendor.  But if she had no experience in the private sector, why was she elected to the post?  Is that not a risk for the company?  Or did the company want a link to a US Senator?


Obama, according to Lynn Sweet and to other who reported on his statements before the AFL-CIO in Trenton, NJ, said the following:


On May 14, during an AFL-CIO forum in Trenton, N.J., Sen. Obama was asked about Wal-Mart. "I won't shop there," he said. Chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) served on the Wal-Mart board between 1986 and 1992.


He also made the these pronouncements, which are reproduced in the London Telegraph story:


As the Illinois senator prepared to join the presidential fray late last year, he threw his weight behind the union-backed campaign against Wal-Mart. He declared that there was a "moral responsibility to stand up and fight" the company and "force them to examine their own corporate values".


But how can he denounce WAL-MART's values and claim he would never shop there when his wife has over $100,000 of salary, stocks and benefits from a company that engages in very friendly practices with WAL-MART?  According to CBS2 Chicago,


The company, which supplies retail grocery chains with pickles, nondairy powdered creamer and other products, said Wal-Mart was its largest customer last year, according to an SEC filing.


In other words, TreeHouse Foods and WAL-MART are close business partners.


Now the Obamas have not provided compelling answers when asked about this egregious conflict of interest.  Here is Michelle Obama:


Barack is gonna say what needs to be said, and it's not going to, you know, necessarily matter ... what I'm doing if it's not the right thing," she said. "He's going to do what's right for ... the country. He's going to speak out. And he's going to, you know, implement his views as he sees fit. ... I see no conflict in that."


According to Michelle Obama, her affiliation with WAL-MART through the sinecure she held at TreeHouse Foods, does not "necessarily matter."  In fact, she "sees no conflict in it," as Barack will "say what needs to be said" in order to win the Presidency.


But the cynicism does not stop there.  Here is Barack Obama in the London Telegraph:


Sen Obama's campaign team and Mrs Obama's spokesman did not respond to requests by The Sunday Telegraph for comment. But the senator previously told Crain's Chicago Business magazine that, while his views on corporate reform and social justice remained the same regardless of what happens at Treehouse, "Michelle and I have to live in the world and pay taxes and pay for our kids and save for retirement".


So for Obama it is just a bunch of words: he and Michelle can profit from WAL-MART through a company that is one of its biggest allies, for they have to take care of their own.


That Obama's opposition to WAL-MART is just a bunch of words is admitted by a spokesman the Obama campaign managed to find to defend this conflict of interest.  Chris Kofinis, Communications Director of WakeUpWalMart.org, just one of many activist groups who oppose WAL-MART, made the following excuses for Obama:


"Many companies do business with Wal-Mart," said Chris Kofinis, communications director for WakeUpWalMart.com, a project of the United Food and Commercial Workers union. "The difference is whether one stays silent on Wal-Mart's negative business practices or not. Sen. Obama has not stayed silent, and he should be applauded for that."


So for Kofinis, who ostensibly opposes WAL-MART, endorses doing business with WAL-MART.  And for him, mere words are enough.  Since the Obama campaign's opposition to WAL-MART is just words, I imagine Kofinis, who is just one of many critics, and not necessarily the most effective critic, is satisfied with these mere words.  But what about the $100,000 the Obama family now possesses as a result of their collusion with WAL-MART?


It is significant that the Obama's view opposition to WAL-MART as so many words to be uttered during a campaign.  Obama is from Chicago, and the Chicago City Council voted to force stores such as WAL-MART to pay living wages, not minimum wages, if they were to build facilities in the City of Chicago.  The vote on the Big Box Ordinance occurred in late July 2006.  Richard Daley vetoed it on September 11, 2006, when Bush was visiting Chicago.  This was Daley's first veto after serving as Mayor of Chicago in 17 years.  All this occurred while Michelle Obama sat on the Board of the WAL-MART friendly company.


Barack Obama endorsed Daley for Mayor in January 2007.  And Michelle Obama was still on the Board of Tree House Foods when this endorsement occurred.  And Obama made this endorsement despite all the reports on cronyism and corruption in City Hall.  In fact, Obama ran into trouble with Daley in 2005 after making comments about Daley's corruption. 


Why the reverse on his stance on corruption?  Did it have anything to do with WAL-MART, the Big Box Ordinance and his wife's affiliation with a WAL-MART friendly company?  And if Obama is so vocal in his opposition to WAL-MART, why endorse a Mayor who vetoed a bill that would force WAL-MART to change its corporate policies,?  Is this not what Obama says they should do when engaging with AFL-CIO voters?  Or is it all just words?  Or is it just words in the right place at the right time?  To quote Michelle Obama again:


Barack is gonna say what needs to be said, and it's not going to, you know, necessarily matter...


Indeed, it will not necessarily matter, for the Obamas have their $100,000, and WAL-MART has an ally in Chicago City Hall.

Tags: 2008, Barack Obama, Big Box Ordinance, Hit Piece, Michelle Obama, Presidency, Primary, Richard Daley, Tree House Foods, Troll Diary, Wal-Mart (all tags)

Comments

34 Comments

Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

And hillary was on the board of Wal-Mart.  Listen, my home town was gutted by Wal-Mart...I don't like them, wish they would go away.  But a company whose largest buyer is Wal-Mart and being on the board are two very different things - I've bough treehouse products before, and maybe if treehouse didn't treat its workers properly I would give it a thought.  But this, this, is ridiculous.  I really hope this isn't a voting issue for you.

by gb1437a 2007-07-04 12:46PM | 0 recs
This 'Story' Was Refuted Last January

I hope you don't mind me posting this here in response to your first comment.  This story apparently originates from a scurrilous website which appeared almost simultaneously with Senator Obama's campaign announcement.

It was comprehensively refuted by JHC at Obamarama.org within days, as follows (I hope the original author doesn't mind my quoting in full):


Chapter 1

The Video's Claim: "Within months after her husband was sworn in as U.S. Senator, Michelle Obama received a pay increase of $195,000 from the not-for-profit hospital where she works!"

The Truth: Michelle Obama did receive a raise two months after Sen. Obama was sworn in. Why? Because she was promoted to Vice President of University of Chicago Hospitals -- a position she had been in line for since joining the hospital in 2002.

As the Chicago Tribune reported in 2006, Michelle Obama was brought on as Executive Director of Community Affairs, a new position that was intended to grow into a Vice President's post, according to then-president of the hospital Michael Riordan. "I knew where I wanted to go with this position," he told the paper. "I wanted to identify someone to grow into it."

In fact, Riordan had discussed the promotion with Michelle Obama before the election, but "she had been reluctant to undertake the commitment until her husband's Senate campaign was finished," according to the report. She wanted to be sure they would maintain their primary residence in Illinois.

A hospital spokesman also listed the achievements of Michelle Obama that
warranted her promotion:

   They included expansion of the institution's women and minority vendor purchases, rejuvenation of its volunteer program and work she did to help set up a collaborative effort with South Side clinics and doctors' offices to provide
    primary care for low-income residents who otherwise would seek treatment at the emergency room.

Her new salary is right on par with that earned by other Vice Presidents at the hospital, too, and actually falls towards the lower end of the spectrum. "She is worth her weight in gold, and she is just terrific," Riordan said.

Shockingly, the video failed to note these facts.

Chapter 2

The Video's Claim: Sen. Obama says he wants to make healthcare more affordable, but "he didn't tell us that his wife is one of 13 vice presidents at a not-for-profit hospital that in 2005 reported earnings of over $100 million -- in part by charging uninsured minorities three and a half times as much as whites with insurance for the exact same care!"

The Truth: People without medical insurance are charged more than people with insurance in virtually every hospital in the country. Because of negotiations in the 1980s that kept prices lower for people with HMO plans or Medicare, hospitals raised their charges for many normal procedures in the 1990s, a reality that resulted in higher costs for PPOs and the uninsured.

According to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, the state with the highest cost-to-charge ratio (which reflects how much more people without insurance are charged than people with insurance) is Nevada, which charges...wait for it...three and a half times more. Following Nevada is California, Alabama, Florida and Arizona. Illinois
doesn't make the top five.

Without question, rising healthcare costs for the uninsured is a major problem. Blaming Michelle Obama for a flawed system that is in effect in every hospital in the country just
because she works at a hospital, however -- not to mention insinuating that such a disparity is based on racial prejudice -- is as irresponsible as it is absurd.

Chapter 3

The Video's Claim: After encouraging college students to pursue public service over "the big house and the large salary," Sen. Obama was the subject of an "embarrassing investigation into the purchase of his stately $1.65 million mansion" and now regrets purchasing land from indicted political fundraiser Tony Rezko.

The Truth: Sen. Obama bought his home on Chicago's South Side at a price on par for
the neighborhood, using advance money from his bestselling book. Seven months later, he purchased an adjacent sliver of land from the wife of Tony Rezko, who had bought the bordering land on the same day Sen. Obama closed on his home (the seller required the sales be closed on the same day, as the New Republic points out). Tony Rezko is a well-connected Chicago fundraiser who is currently involved in two unrelated criminal cases.

Contrary to the video's claim, there was no investigation into the purchase. The Washington Post reported that "There have been no allegations that Obama...broke the law or committed any ethics violations." Still, Sen. Obama said he regretted the purchase, which he called "boneheaded," because of how it could be perceived.

As the New Republic notes, "No one is seriously accusing Obama of any wrongdoing" in this situation. In addition, Sen. Obama has since that time opposed gambling interests that Rezko supports, and has donated $11,500 in campaign contributions from Rezko to charity.

Chapter 4

The Video's Claim: Though Sen. Obama has spoken about worker's rights to groups critical of Wal-Mart, he didn't mention that the CEO of TreeHouse Foods received $26 million in compensation in 2005, while Wal-Mart's CEO received $10.5 million, despite the fact that TreeHouse is a much smaller company -- "maybe because he's embarrassed his wife sits on the Board of Directors of TreeHouse Foods, a company that shut a plant in 2006 that was staffed primarily with low-paid Hispanics!"

The Truth: Michelle Obama joined the Board of Directors of TreeHouse Foods in June 2005, shortly after the company was spun off its parent company, Dean Foods. TreeHouse CEO Sam Reed was reportedly paid $26.2 million in 2005, much of which was in the form of stock options stemming from the company's spin-off and contingent on the company's level of performance, according to Crain's Business. In other words, the company must do well for Reed to receive that money.

TreeHouse has an Executive Compensation Committee to determine the salaries of its executives. Michelle Obama does not sit on this committee. When asked, she pointed out that Reed's compensation is "benchmarked to that of other food firms." She also noted to a reporter that her income "is pretty low compared to my peers," adding, "You wouldn't ask that question if, like some people in politics, we had trust funds and were
rich."

As for the claim about the plant that was shut down in 2006, it's true. It was a pickle plant in La Junta, Colorado, and employed 153 people. It was not closed by TreeHouse directly, however, but by Bay Valley Foods, a division of the larger TreeHouse company. The video's attempt to link Michelle Obama to the plant's closure -- and to once again inject racial overtones into its specious claim -- is like saying the Secretary of Agriculture should be held responsible for the unfortunate closing of a military base in Maine.

A press release from Bay Valley Foods regretfully attributes the closure to "a reduction in our pickle business and a significant increase in overhead costs, making it necessary to consolidate our manufacturing network. The La Junta facility is a high-cost plant with the lowest utilization among Bay Valley Foods' pickle plants. Production at La Junta will be reallocated among our five remaining pickle production facilities."

JHC at Obamarama.org

It has been alleged that this website and the content have a connection to 'Low Blow' Joe Novak, a person of questionable repute who has been known to promote anti-Obama messaging and stories in Chicago for quite some time.  This is an old and tired story and I am surprised to see it reappear.  Maybe the Obama supporters here need to consider some kind of informal 'rapid response team' that is equipped to refute stories which have already been proven false.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-07-04 04:39PM | 0 recs
Re: This 'Story' Was Refuted Last January

proven "false" by obama operatives.  but that means nothing.

michelle obama and barack obama are linked to wal-mart and to daley's veto of big box ordinance.  and they all benefitted from daley's veto on behalf of wal-mart.

by truthteller2007 2007-07-04 04:44PM | 0 recs
Re: This 'Story' Was Refuted Last January

Oh boy, here is someone who just appeared "today", which I don't mind, but to put out a comprehensive diary "today", suspect.  And Hillary Clinton should get a pass on Wal-Mart?  She was sitting on the board of directors and you equate Michelle Obama sitting on the BofD of a supplier as the same?  And all this bullshit you brought up has been de-bunked, totally.  Hey, whatever float your boat but Hillary and Michelle and Wal-Mart is YESTERDAY.  And, personally, no problem with either.  Hillary off the BofD when BC elected, Michelle relinquished her position as her husband started running for POTUS.  So, get current and off of YESTERDAY.

by icebergslim 2007-07-04 05:00PM | 0 recs
Re: This 'Story' Was Refuted Last January

rated for thread hijacking.  remove comment, please.  no citations, and this is political rhetoric, not unbiased research.

by truthteller2007 2007-07-04 04:49PM | 0 recs
Re: This 'Story' Was Refuted Last January

Thread hijacking?  You must be kidding.  Any comment on the Joe Novak connection?  Hmm...  

by Shaun Appleby 2007-07-04 04:53PM | 0 recs
Re: This 'Story' Was Refuted Last January

Story printed in multiple news organs.  

perform google search on Michelle Obama Wal-Mart

verified by multiple sources

by truthteller2007 2007-07-04 04:55PM | 0 recs
Re: This 'Story' Was Refuted Last January

Gee, this is like handling a snake.  Hold firmly... just behind the head, ignore wriggling.  Somebody find me a sack!

by Shaun Appleby 2007-07-04 04:58PM | 0 recs
Re: This 'Story' Was Refuted Last January

A blind Snake at that....ignore him

by rapcetera 2007-07-04 06:29PM | 0 recs
Re: This 'Story' Was Refuted Last January

I'm part of the Obama RapidResponse group. We debunked this all over the internet way back.  When I saw TruthTeller pull rehash this, I laughed hard. TT is clearly lagging behing in current affairs.

by rapcetera 2007-07-04 06:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART
did you create this account purely to write this?
What is going on today?
by gb1437a 2007-07-04 12:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

Yeah, it must be some kind of troll.

Probably shops at WalMart all the time too.

by Bush Bites 2007-07-04 12:55PM | 0 recs
just another hit piece

we always have to have one of these

by bebe 2007-07-04 01:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

So you think Obama can force Dick Daley out of office, do you?

LOL.

by Bush Bites 2007-07-04 12:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

EXACTLY!!!!!  Diarist has never been to Chi, OBVIOUSLY.

by icebergslim 2007-07-04 05:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

you condone machine politics?

by truthteller2007 2007-07-04 05:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

This is ridiculous, do you know how many companies Wal-Mart is there number one trading  partner,also she resigned. It is a none issue.

by Democraticavenger 2007-07-04 01:14PM | 0 recs
Wow

What a troll.

This a such a old non-story. Who do you support? Hillary Clinton? She served on the board of Wall-Mart.

by Populista 2007-07-04 01:14PM | 0 recs
Things around here

Things around these parts have been steadily going down hill. Yeah, you get to noticing that it sucks when any candidate is subjected to crap like this. Change the name of the candidate, change the individual posting - the tone of the breathless post is the same. The content is crap.

by Michael Bersin 2007-07-04 01:32PM | 0 recs
There are many reasons to ignore this diary

...and its absurd first sentence disqualifies it from any more of my attention.

by AdamSmithsHand 2007-07-04 01:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

I couldn't care less where the Obamas shop or what boards Michelle Obama serves on. Totally irrelevant.

by hwc 2007-07-04 01:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

Read about how Wal-Mart's union-busting machine had already been
active for 16 YEARS, before Hillary Clinton got to the board in 1986.

Read about how Hillary Clinton was IN THE ROOM at board meetings
during which Wal-Mart's union-busting activities were openly discussed.

Read about how Hillary Clinton SAID NOTHING about it.

Then get back to me.

by horizonr 2007-07-04 01:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

so are we supposed to hold that against her,you are just as bad as the poster

by bebe 2007-07-04 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

I think Horizonr is talking about the fact that this is a double edged blade.  The author thinks it's a one sided blade and is trying to slap Obama with something, that can easily be applied much harder to Clinton.  I personally don't take an issue with wal-mart, and I think it is virtually a non-issue both ways.  I can see how people who have had towns shit on by wal-mart take an issue with both of these candidates.  I don't think, by the situation, that you can say "Barack obama is a hypocrite!  OMG!"  And not take issue with the fact that Hillary was on the board.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-07-04 06:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

both are hypocrites.  both hillary and obama.

by truthteller2007 2007-07-04 06:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

There doesn't seem to be anything in this diary to indicate a Hillary supporter, yet the defense to this diary is that Hillary was on the Walmart board.  So this diary would have been okay if it had been about Hillary and Walmart and in the same mean spirited tone?  For the record I too think this diary is silly, but there are plenty of ways to dismiss it without ever mentioning Hillary.

by Kingstongirl 2007-07-04 02:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

Yeah, I don't think it was a Hillary supporter.

For starters, Hillary is mentioned in the post as well (as a former WalMart board member)

And, frankly, I would be surprised if an Edwards supporter would stoop this low too.

No, I think it's someone trying to stir up trouble between the camps.

Watch out for this shit. There will be more of this, since the Repubs don't have any real candidates of their own.

by Bush Bites 2007-07-04 03:10PM | 0 recs
Rubes

Yeah, the cubicle dwelling interns at the rnc have been getting paid time and a half today. Oops, sorry, my mistake. They don't get holiday pay because it ain't a union shop.

by Michael Bersin 2007-07-04 04:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

Come on, brother.  Is this the best that you have?  Michelle Obama sat on the board of a company that produced product for Wal-Mart?  Companies that do business with Wal-Mart are not any better off than the people that work for the big blue box.  Wal-mart allows the smallest of profit margins while imposing the most brutal quality assurance standards.  As a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Inspector, I have seen the requirements that Wal-mart places on the companies that supply them while offering the slimmest of margins.  The only way that these companies are "In bed" with wal-mart is that they are getting screwed by Wal-Mart almost as hard as Wal-mart workers. Trying to make a case that Sen. Obama is unfit to lead because of this connection between his wife and a Wal-Mart supplier betrays your true nature. You are a proponent of one of his opponents and are starting from the point of view and are trying to come up with reasons to justify youre dislike. Frankly, if this is the worst thing that anyone can come up with , Senator Obama is going to do just fine.

by blandon70 2007-07-04 06:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

ignored relation to daley and big box ordinance.

by truthteller2007 2007-07-04 06:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama and WAL-MART

This is another Poor attempt at rehashing a old smear on Michelle Obama.

TruthTeller you really need to do your homework before posting garbage like this. This was debunked way back in February. Besides Walmart has tons of company's they do business with. Treehouse foods just happened to be one of them. Hillary however was on the Walmart board, how about that? (Not that I care).

Moreover Lynn Sweet is IN LOVE with the Obama's, She only goes negative once in a while to maintain the balance in her reporting, so quoting her in a smear against the Obama's is laughable.

by rapcetera 2007-07-04 06:26PM | 0 recs
Truthteller2007, chill

and try to enjoy the rest of your LIFE...

       
        Family is a "beautiful" thing....

by icebergslim 2007-07-04 06:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Truthteller2007, chill

funded with wal-mart money.

by truthteller2007 2007-07-04 06:29PM | 0 recs
icebergslim

Family is a "beautiful thing"?

So why did you open a fucking diary about Al Gore's son?

by samueldem 2007-07-04 06:34PM | 0 recs

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