walmart_for_president.jpgrnrnDespite the cold and the last minute cancellation of the public hearing on a ballot initiative to ban direct corporate contributions to DC candidates, dozens of people showed up this morning at One Judiciary Square to demand accountability from their elected officials. “We are sick and tired of having elected officials who are bought and paid for,” said Courtney Stewart, Chairman of the Reentry Network for Returning Citizens. “We need real ethics reform that will help ensure we have a City Council that works for the citizens of DC, not big corporations like Walmart.” rnrnRespect DC, a coalition that includes DC Jobs with Justice, is calling on all current City Council members with a Walmart planned for their ward to disclose their financial ties to both Walmart and the developers who plan to build the stores. “Unfortunately, because of ‘bundling’, where developers and others create shell companies for the sole purpose of getting around contribution limits, we don’t know how much money current Council members have received from JBG, Foulger-Pratt, A&R, or Walmart,” said Dyana Forester, with DC Jobs with Justice. “We need to know if our officials are in the pocket of Walmart and big developers.”rn rnThe Washington Times reported on March 3, 2011 that Derek Ford, campaign treasurer for Ward 7 Councilwoman Yvette Alexander, was hired last year by a public relations firm working to lay the groundwork for Walmart to open stores in DC. In addition, Alexander was recently represented before the BOEE by David Wilmot, a Walmart lobbyist. The Times has also reported that Wilmot has been raising money for Ward 4 Councilwoman Muriel Bowser.rn rnThe press conference also featured a special appearance by Republican presidential candidate Walmart, who was in town for this past weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference. “The residents of Washington, DC, clearly are better served when I can buy elections,” said Candidate Walmart. “I don’t understand why people think they know better than me. I have the money, I should get to make the rules.”rnrnBy Michael Wilson, DC Jobs with Justice