Wal-Mart Heir Donates To Obama PAC, Defying Rest Of Billionaire Family
Is there a billionaire political battle brewing in the Walton family?
Some might think so after the latest FEC filing for Priorities USA Action, a super PAC that supports President Obama’s re-election, showed that Sam Rawlings Walton, the grandson of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, donated $300,000 to the group last month. His generosity to the Democratic cause stands in sharp contrast to the political leanings of the rest of the Walton family, a group that includes six billionaires.
While the 44-year-old Sam is helping to re-elect the president, his relatives have been trying to kick Obama out of the White House. Jim Walton (Sam’s uncle) has donated $300,000 combined to Restore Our Future, a PAC that backs Mitt Romney, and Our Destiny, which supported former Republican candidate Jon Huntsman. Alice and Christy Walton (Sam’s aunts) gave $200,000 to Restore Our Future and $50,000 to Our Destiny, respectively.
Sam, the son of another billionaire, S. Robson Walton, has clearly stepped outside his family’s political sphere. He’s on the board of the Environmental Defense Fund, a non-profit dedicated to environmental protection. And while he gave $30,000 to Obama’s cause in 2008, this ten-fold increase raised the stakes. Sam’s giving now equals his most generous relatives on the right.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a family feud among politically-active billionaires. Earlier this year, my colleague Clare O’Connor described the split between Joe Ricketts and his daughter Laura. Joe is the founder of online discount brokerage TD Ameritrade and he presides over the family interests, which include a majority stake in the Chicago Cubs. In addition to supporting anti-Obama PACs, Joe reportedly created a 54-page plan to attack the president, linking him back to controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Laura doesn’t exactly take after her father, though. The openly gay lawyer and mother was, until recently, a board member at Lambda Legal, the group that filed the initial suit in Iowa’s same-sex marriage victory. Already one of President Obama’s ‘bundlers’, or super-fundraisers, Ricketts actually founded her own super PAC in July to donate money toward pro-women, pro-gay candidates. Laura called it LPAC, the first lesbian super PAC.