Union Money Ushers Along ‘Anti-Walmart’ Bill

Owen Poindexter | April 18, 2011

April 18, 2011 - The California State Senate Governance and Finance Committee approved a bill sponsored by Juan Vargas (SB 469) that would require cities and counties to obtain an economic impact report before approving construction of "superstores" that sell groceries, such as Walmart, according to the Sacramento Bee.

On April 6, 2011, the committee passed the measure 6-3 on a straight party-line vote, with Democrats voting to pass the measure and Republicans voting against it. The bill is supported by a number of unions, including AFSCME and the California Labor Federation. It is opposed by Walmart and business groups such as the California Retailers Association. While those voting against the bill received roughly equal amounts in campaign contributions from supporting and opposing organizations, senators voting in favor of the bill received vastly more from supporting interest groups.

According to the Sac Bee, "several cities now require such reports, similar in concept to environmental impact reports, but Vargas's bill stems directly from a flareup in San Diego. At the behest of unions that have battled with Walmart, the San Diego City Council approved such a requirement last fall, but Mayor Jerry Sanders vetoed it." has found that during that same time frame, Vargas received $3,000 in campaign contributions from Walmart, the only contribution he has received from the company since at least January 2003.

The bill is now being considered by the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality, with a hearing scheduled for May 2.

Campaign Contributions to Senate Governance and Finance Committee Members from Groups Supporting and Opposing SB 469, Jan. 1, 2007 - Dec. 31, 2010

Legislator Money from All Supporting Groups Money from All Opposing Groups 

Money from

Vote on  SB 469 Party
Mark DeSaulnier$431,888$0$0 YesD
Lois Wolk $220,725 $0 $0 Yes D
Loni Hancock $163,550 $0 $0 Yes D
Carol Liu $119,850 $0 $0 Yes D
Christine Kehoe $119,450 $0 $0 Yes D
Ed Hernandez $99,449  $4,800 $0 Yes D
Jean Fuller
$10,200 $7,000 $4,500 No R
Bob Huff  
$4,590 $6,300 $6,300 No R
Doug La Malfa  
$3,800 $0 $0 No R

Methodology: Includes reported contributions to campaigns of senators in office during the 2011-2012 California State Legislature, from interest groups invested in the vote according to, January 1, 2007 – December 31, 2010. California campaign contributions data source: National Institute on Money in State Politics.