Connecticut millionaire businessman Ned Lamont, who sharply criticized the employment practices of Wal-Mart this week in his campaign to unseat Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democrat primary, owns stock in the company, Senate records reveal.
“This is about waking up Wal-Mart, and this is also about waking up corporate America,” Mr. Lamont said Wednesday at a Bridgeport rally against the retail giant, hosted by many of the same liberal bloggers who have boosted the former cable executive far ahead of Mr. Lieberman in the polls.
But Mr. Lamont and his family are part owners of the company, according to financial disclosure records he filed earlier this year with the secretary of the Senate. Mr. Lamont, his wife and a dependent child own as much as $31,000 in Wal-Mart stock.
Mr. Lamont and his wife jointly own two accounts containing as much as $16,000 in Wal-Mart stock. Their Wal-Mart holdings spin off as much as $3,500 in annual dividends. In addition, a trust fund he set up for one of his children contains as much as $15,000 in Wal-Mart stock and spins off as much as $1,000 in dividends.
In his remarks at the anti-Wal-Mart rally this week, Mr. Lamont never mentioned his shareholder status in the company. He did, however, criticize Mr. Lieberman for not doing more during this three terms in the Senate to help the workers he says are so mistreated by Wal-Mart.
“We believe that universal health care is a basic right for each and every American,” Mr. Lamont said. “It won’t take me 18 years to go down to Washington, D.C., and get that done.”
Mr. Lieberman attended the same event and took similar whacks at Wal-Mart. But Lamont supporters mercilessly flogged Mr. Lieberman as a hypocrite because he had once received — but later returned — a $1,000 contribution from Wal-Mart’s political action committee.
“Are we ready to take their PAC money?” one man shouted at Mr. Lieberman as he spoke.
“Let me just answer that lie with a fact,” Mr. Lieberman shot back, according to published reports. “Wal-Mart PAC sent my campaign a check in March, and we returned it a week later. Deal with the facts.”
Unseating Mr. Lieberman — the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee just six years ago — has become the top priority of left-wing blogs that despise Mr. Lieberman for his support of the Iraq war and other positions he’s taken that have been helpful to President Bush.
Many of those same bloggers, along with many Democrats, have also waged a campaign against Wal-Mart, accusing the company of paying employees poorly and not providing adequate health care.
The most recent polling released yesterday showed Mr. Lamont with a double-digit lead over Mr. Lieberman heading into Tuesday’s primary. Among likely Democrat voters, Mr. Lamont netted 54 percent and Mr. Lieberman got 41 percent, according to the poll conducted July 24-31 by Quinnipiac University. The telephone survey of 890 voters had a margin of error of three percentage points.
“These candidates have shopped at Wal-Mart, invested in Wal-Mart and welcomed Wal-Mart jobs,” said Kevin Sheridan, spokesman for Working Families for Wal-Mart. “Now they’re telling the working men and women they want to represent that they can’t save money or take jobs at Wal-Mart? This is all about politics. And it’s sad.”