Lost in Wal-Mart's rabbit hole

The news of massive bribery by Wal-Mart's Mexican subsidiary has filled Republican Rep. Darrell Issa with outrage – not at the corporation's corruption, but at those who're outraged by it.

The news of massive bribery by Wal-Mart’s Mexican subsidiary has filled Republican Rep. Darrell Issa with outrage – not at the corporation’s corruption, but at those who’re outraged by it.

A former corporate CEO himself, Issa recently said: “Bashing private enterprise for trying to expand and make a profit on behalf of their stockholders seems to me to be a goal that I don’t really understand.” Well gosh, Darrell, we can explain to you again that bribery is both immoral and illegal, but we can’t comprehend it for you.

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Yet, even this obtuse corporate-hugging lawmaker might finally be able to grasp Wal-Mart’s ethical turpitude, for its scandalous behavior is now spilling into his own realm: Congress. It turns out that while the predatory Behemoth of Bentonville was profiting by systematically violating America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, it also had two powerful political forces working ever so quietly on Capitol Hill to weaken – guess what? – the very law it was flagrantly violating.

Wal-Mart is a prominent funder of and player in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, sitting on the governing boards that direct the lobbying agendas of the two front groups. Now it’s been revealed that both groups have been lobbying since 2010 to limit a parent corporation’s liability for a subsidiary’s illegal behavior under the anti-bribery law.

What a rabbit hole we’ve tumbled into! Wal-Mart executives brazenly broke the law to enrich themselves, covered up their dishonesty for years, secretly tried to have their illegalities redefined as legal – and are now grinning like Cheshire Cats as a Congress critter howls that critics of their lawlessness are “bashing private enterprise.” The Mad Hatter’s tea party wasn’t as twisted as this.

“A Wall of Integrity,” The Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2012.

“After Its Subsidiary Bribed Mexican Officials, Wal-Mart Lobbies To Weaken Anti-Bribery Laws,” www.alternet.com, April 23, 2012.

“Wal-Mart Hushed Up a Vast Mexican Bribery Case,” www.nytimes.com, April 21, 2012.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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