03/28/2008 02:43 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Wal-Mart Heirs Donating Millions And Millions And Millions To Conservative Causes, Groups...

With a combined fortune of more than $90 billion, the Waltons--the immediate heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton--are the richest family in the world. Five of the country's ten richest individuals are members of Sam's immediate family: his wife, Helen, and their three surviving children--Rob, Jim and Alice--as well as his late son John's widow, Christy (John Walton died in June when his private plane crashed). Until recently, however, they gave away little of their fortune. As Sam Walton explained in his 1992 autobiography, Made in America, he didn't believe in giving "any undeserving stranger a free ride." Nor did he believe in being generous with company profits. "We feel very strongly," he wrote, "that Wal-Mart really is not, and should not be, in the charity business." Money that Wal-Mart donated to charity, he reasoned, would only come out of the pockets of "either our shareholders or our customers." (He didn't mention workers, perhaps a tacit acknowledgment that picking their pockets was just business as usual.) As for politics, Sam couldn't stand the stuff. At a 1988 Mother's Day "toast and roast" honoring Helen Walton, then-Senator Dale Bumpers of Arkansas quipped that waiting for big campaign contributions from the Waltons was like "leaving landing lights on for Amelia Earhart."

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