After The New York Times uncovered the internal reaction of Wal-Mart’s top executives to an extensive bribery scheme in Mexico, depicting the company in a fairly negative light, a variety of New York City politicians latched onto the report in order to further their arguments against the superstore ever setting up shop in the city. The group of elected officials who have sent out statements on the issue includes three top mayoral candidate in 2013, as well as a congressional contender in Queens, demonstrating the salience of rhetorically torching the company in local politics.
Saying that “Wal-Mart has once again revealed it’s true colors,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn was particularly critical of the company in her statement:
“The corporation’s tactics of bribery, scheming and corruption are the latest in a litany of despicable business practices including discrimination, worker mistreatment and predatory pricing. This is precisely the type of business we do not want in our communities and I remain committed to fighting against Wal-Mart’s corporate poison from entering the five boroughs.
Wal-Mart’s actions in Mexico should be fully investigated and they must be held fully accountable for any laws, American or Mexican, that were broken.”
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who was actually first out of the gate in sending out a statement reacting to the report, echoed Ms. Quinn’s thoughts:
“New York City cannot open its doors to a company that sanctions bribery and then covers it up as a part of doing business. Walmart is notorious for breaking its promises to communities, but these new revelations show Walmart is just as willing to break federal laws. New Yorkers should be put on notice: there is no tactic too underhanded for Walmart to try in order to open here. If we are going to prevent the loss of thousands of New York City jobs and avert a race to the bottom in retail wages, we need to redouble our efforts to keep Walmart out.”
As did Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer:
“A company that tries to bribe its way into a community has no place in New York City. Once again Wal-Mart has shown itself to be a bad corporate actor and a bad neighbor, a company whose black marks already include predatory pricing and blatant disregard for the rights of working men and women.”
Meanwhile Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who’s running for congress in in a race that has seen opposition Wal-Mart cited as a key issue in labor endorsements, connected the bribes in Mexico to the company’s surge of charitable contributions to New York City causes:
“This morning’s New York Times story regarding allegations that Walmart orchestrated a $24 million bribery campaign to gain favorable treatment by the Mexican government should be a wake up call for New Yorkers who have witnessed Walmart’s aggressive lobbying effort and recent streak of opportunistic ‘philanthropy’ in our city. Elected officials in New York have an obligation to stand up for workers and small businesses in our city and send Walmart a clear message, that whether it’s through politically-motivated charity donations, campaign contributions or outright illegal bribes, our city is not for sale.”