Since 2004, the Walton Family Foundation has given EDF (the Environmental Defense Fund) more than $53 million. Last year, the foundation’s donations totaled an astounding 15 percent of EDF’s budget, or $13.7 million. This news generated a front page New York Times business section story under the headline “Unexpected Ally Helps Walmart Cut Waste.”
EDF wants to make sure we don’t confuse Walmart with the Walton Family Foundation. But how could we not? The foundation’s board is made up entirely of Waltons. While Walmart’s board includes three family members, and the Walton’s own about 50 percent of Walmart’s stock.
As reported by Grist, “Last year, the foundation made $71 million in grants to environmental organizations — with the largest grants going to groups that have collaborated with Walmart. In addition to EDF, top recipients included Conservation International, which has a corporate partnership with Walmart, and the Marine Stewardship Council, which began receiving foundation support the same year it agreed to certify and provide an eco-label for some of the seafood Walmart sells. These three organizations accounted for 46 percent of the foundation’s environmental funding last year.”
Is it credible to believe that the Walton Family Foundation’s donations to EDF do not influence EDF’s policy? Might EDF hesitate before publically criticizing the retail giant? Is it possible that EDF would share knowledge about a pending attack from a fellow environmental group? If EDF had to choose a business to praise, might the fact that it has received $53 million from the Walton Family Foundation influence its thinking?