Wal-Mart encourages employees to donate to its political fundraising arm by offering in return a double contribution to the retailer's needy workers, according to a report by Bloomberg.
The company's political action committee, officially named the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. PAC for Responsible Government, uses the donations from employees to back candidates and causes in Washington. Federal law forbids companies from donating directly to political action committees.
The Wal-Mart PAC spent $3.2 million in the 2012 election cycle, according to the Bloomberg report. Recipients included Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas.
Wal-Mart isn't the only company that exchanges charitable donations for employees' political donations. Hewlett-Packard Co. and Coca-Cola, for example, also engage in the practice.
But unlike Wal-Mart, those companies provide a one-for-one match and donate to the employees' charity of choice.
"Wal-Mart goes further," Bloomberg's Renee Dudley writes. "It offers a two-for-one match, and the contribution must go to the Associates in Critical Need Trust, or ACNT, a charity the company started in 2001 to help its own store workers facing financial distress. Wal-Mart gave the ACNT about $3.6 million in double-matching funds in the year that ended January 31, according to an audit of the charity’s financial filings."
Wal-Mart landed in hot water last month following reports that several stores were holding food drives for the retailer's own financially strapped employees. The charity drives stoked criticism of Wal-Mart's wages.
We've reached out to Wal-Mart for comment on the Bloomberg report and will update when we hear back.
Company spokesman David Tovar told Bloomberg the practice is "a great way for people who contribute to the PAC to also do good for fellow associates."
More From Business Insider