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The Nation

Wal-Mart Denies Boosting Dole Campaign

September 01, 2002|From Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — Wal-Mart executives said it was a mistake to mail a company publication featuring Republican Senate candidate Elizabeth Hanford Dole on the cover less than two weeks before the GOP primary.

The publication, sent to nearly 200,000 North Carolina residents, was meant to promote literacy--not Dole's candidacy, they said.

"There was nothing remotely political in the intent," said Jay Allen, Wal-Mart's senior vice president for corporate affairs. "It was a matter of coincidence and an honest mistake."

Allen said the Bentonville, Ark., company would send a letter to the Federal Election Commission informing it of the mailing to make sure no campaign laws were violated.

Dole's rivals said the mailing was a blatant attempt by the nation's largest retail chain to influence North Carolina's primary.

"We've had the political titans invade North Carolina attempting to influence the electorate," said Jim Snyder, a Lexington lawyer and one of six GOP opponents of Dole seeking to succeed Jesse Helms.

Wal-Mart requested the Dole interview in March, about the same time the company's executives were contributing the maximum amount allowed under federal law to her campaign.

Copies of "Source" were mailed to 195,000 North Carolina homes and several million residences nationwide.

The cover features a photo of Dole with an American flag flying in the background.

In an article titled "Elizabeth Dole would like you to read this article," Dole talks about the need to encourage literacy. The article does not mention the election.

Wal-Mart officials said they approached Dole about appearing on the cover of their annual literacy issue after Oprah Winfrey turned the company down.

On March 4, David Glass, the chief executive officer of Wal-Mart, and his wife gave the Dole campaign $4,000, the maximum allowed for individuals, according to campaign finance records.

Eight days later, Wal-Mart's political action committee contributed $10,000 to Dole's campaign, the maximum permitted for a PAC.

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