Wal-Mart’s Latest Acquisition: Phil Singer

Here’s more about Wal-Mart’s newest addition, Phil Singer.

Singer’s name popped up in Claire Atkinson’s story today, noting he runs “a corporate consulting firm, which has worked with prominent Democrats, including Sen. Chuck Schumer.”

Singer also worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and, most recently, on Andrew Cuomo’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

The giant realtor is currently mounting a campaign-style campaign while it explores opening its first store in New York City. Other political operatives helping the Wal-Mart effort include Bloomberg’s 2009 campaign manager, Bradley Tusk, and noted pollster Doug Schoen. 

As for Singer, who is 35, intense, and a marathon runner, he politely referred questions to Wal-Mart spokesman Steven Restivo.

Restivo said, Singer started “several months ago” and “is well-respected among the New York City media and he’s helping us on the communication front.”

I asked if Singer’s connection to those notable Democrats was part of the reason he was hired.

Restivo paused briefly, and said, “He was brought on for his background and skills in the field of communications.” (I sent an inquiry to Cuomo’s office to see if the governor has any thoughts about Wal-Mart and will update when a response is available.)

On the broader point about the company’s communication strategy in New York City, here’s how Restivo described it:

“Wal-Mart has a good story to tell and so, we’re putting the resources behind telling it in as many different ways as we can to as many different people as we can,” he said.

One thing critics note is the company’s refusal to attend City Council hearings on the matter.

Restivo said the Council hearings shouldn’t be seen as platform where issues could be earnestly discussed.

“For months, we have been engaging with elected officials and community stakeholders across the city and we’ve been listening to concerns, answering questions and sharing information,” he said. “Our decision not to attend those hearings had nothing to do with our willingness to answer questions. We do that every single day in New York City and had everything to do with hypothetical nature of the proceedings.”

When asked what he would like to see different in order to attend those hearings, Restivo was not specific. 

“We don’t have a store or announced project in New York City,” he said. “It’s no secret we’re evaluating opportunities, but at the end of the day, we don’t have a store or announced project here.”