LOS ANGELES — An associate at a lobbying firm tapped to bring a Walmart store to downtown Los Angeles has left the firm after she posed as a reporter at a news conference held by a labor group that opposed the big-box store.
City Ethics Commission records show Stephanie Harnett worked for Mercury Public Affairs, which received $60,000 from Walmart to lobby for a Wal-Mart store to be built in Chinatown, the Los Angeles Times said in its Friday edition.
The project provoked opposition from labor groups, which complain about unfair conditions at the retailer.
Last week, one of those groups, Warehouse Workers United, held a news conference and Harnett signed a media sheet saying she was a student at the University of Southern California named “Zoe Mitchell.”
“She told him she was a journalism student at USC and that she was a storyteller from the heart,” Brennan said.
“Stephanie is a junior member of our team who made an immature decision,” Becky Warren, managing director for Mercury, said in the statement. “She showed very poor judgment, and Mercury takes full responsibility. We are taking the necessary disciplinary actions. This is an isolated incident that has never happened before and will not happen again.”
“Our culture of integrity is a constant at Wal-Mart, and by not properly identifying herself, this individual’s behavior was contrary to our values and the way we do business,” Restivo told the Times.
Harnett did not respond to an email seeking comment from the Times, and a phone message left by The Associated Press at a listing in her name was not immediately returned.
The incident was first reported by the website Gawker.
Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com
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