Walmart Settles ‘Fake Reporter’ Saga

Stephanie HarnettWalmart and its PR firm agreed not to engage in illegal surveillance of workers.

In a settlement made public today Walmart and Mercury Public Affairs agreed to destroy any recordings made at a press conference last year that was co-sponsored by Warehouse Workers United and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. The companies settled to avoid a trial after federal authorities investigated and authorized a complaint over a federal charge filed by Warehouse Workers United.

At the June 2012 press conference, warehouse worker Santos Castaneda was interviewed by a Mercury Public Affairs staffer posing as a student journalist. The┬ápublic relations agent said her name was Zoe Mitchell and that she was a journalism student at the University of Southern California. The next week, the same woman appeared at a press event in front of the proposed location for a Walmart in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. This time she used her real identity, Stephanie Harnett, and said she was representing Walmart.

Walmart severed ties with Mercury after news of the “Walmart spy” came to light.

Walmart Spy: Double Identity“Walmart has a lot of tricks up its sleeves,” Castaneda said. “I’m glad we caught them this time.”

Cartoonist Lalo Alcarez documented the saga with a cartoon:

Lalo Cartoon

2 Comments on "Walmart Settles ‘Fake Reporter’ Saga"

  1. Richard Crooks | July 1, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Reply

    Wal China has to be held accountable and fine the hell out of them. They are the low life of low life.

  2. The more and more and more I read about Wal-Mart’s practices, the more and more I hate them. I have sworn to never set foot in their stores, and my money goes to Target and Costco. Money is the only language that abatoir understands.

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