Housing Complex

This Is What Walmart Arm-Twisting Looks Like

housing_Walmart-3According to emails between Walmart and senior officials in the administration of Mayor Vince Gray, the Arkansas retail giant identified one member of the D.C. Council as the swing vote on the living wage bill's passage from committee: At-Large Councilmember David Grosso. Nina Albert, Walmart's director of community affairs, wrote to Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Victor Hoskins and his staff on May 30 that Walmart was "working on Grosso" and hoping to move him into the "no" column to deny a committee majority for the bill.

I called Grosso to ask what Walmart's "working on" him consisted of.

"They did meet with me twice," Grosso recalls. "And I have to say, at one point, I was willing to see if the chairman of the committee would hold another hearing, because they had asked me to ask him for that, and I figured, why not? And I did ask Chairman [Vincent] Orange for another hearing, but he didn't want to do that."

Walmart's tactics in these lobbying sessions weren't any different from the lines the company's used publicly, Grosso says. "They used the same arguments they used in the public, that this is targeting one store, that they are really good for the city," he says. "They discussed Skyland and that there’s no other options there. Just the typical arguments. Which I didn’t buy."

Grosso says Albert was present at the meetings, as well as superlobbyist David Wilmot. At the meeting where Grosso was pressured to schedule another hearing, he says others joined as well, including D.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO Barbara Lang.

But Grosso says Walmart lobbyists should have known better than to waste their time on him. "I would’ve thought they were pretty clear on my position," he says. "I said, 'The best thing you can do is never ask me for anything, 'cause I won’t be with you.' They shouldn’t be confused about that."

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Hillman

    That's arm-twisting? Seriously?

    Could you use a more loaded term?

    Walmart asked for a meeting.

    That's not exactly playing hard-ball.

  • Jes’ sayin

    OMG! Asked for a meeting!!!???

    Maybe someone should call for a preliminary investigation. That's where they investigate to see if maybe they should have an investigation. Or something like that.

  • JP

    I think you guys missed the point...

    Earlier in Housing Complex:
    "David Grosso's home burglarized. [WJLA]"

    Hence...arm twisting.

  • Big Daddy

    If Gray vetoes the bill, WalMart should bag the NY Avenue site. All three Council members from Ward 5 voted for that ridiculous bill. WalMart should give them the middle finger and find a site in a more business friendly part of DC

  • AERzondzinska

    It is, after all, the sacred obligation of government and residents of D.C. to be business-friendly! Big Daddy, you are corporate fodder!

  • noodlez
  • Pingback: The Wal-Mart debate jumps the shark

  • Typical DC BS

    Funny how most of the "Walmart" protesters were paid union stooges. What a joke of a protest.