Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Sweet column: Michelle Obama quits board of Wal-Mart supplier.


WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama resigned Tuesday from the board of TreeHouse Foods Inc., a Wal-Mart vendor, eight days after husband and White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said he would not shop at the anti-union store.

Obama has been a director of the suburban Westchester food maker since June 27, 2005. Board chairman Sam Reed received a resignation letter from Obama Tuesday. The company said she quit because of “increased demands” on her time. Obama was re-elected to the board April 19 for a term ending in 2010 — during a period she was preparing to take on a larger role in the campaign.

In a statement issued by the campaign, Obama said, “As my campaign commitments continue to ramp up, it is becoming more difficult for me to provide the type of focus I would like on my professional responsibilities." She said it was in “the best interests of my family and the company” she quit.

Wal-Mart is a target of organized labor in the U.S., a Democratic constituency playing a key role in determining the 2008 Democratic nominee. Obama’s link to Wal-Mart through TreeHouse was a potential liability for Sen. Obama. On May 14, during an AFL-CIO forum in Trenton, N.J., Sen. Obama was asked about Wal-Mart. “I won’t shop there,” he said. Chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) served on the Wal-Mart board between 1986 and 1992.

In a SEC filing, TreeHouse stated Obama’s resignation “is not due to any disagreement with the company on any matter.’’

According to the Obamas’ income tax returns, Michelle Obama collected $51,200 from TreeHouse in 2006. She leaves the board with an option to buy 2,266 TreeHouse shares at a strike price of $29.65. Shares closed at $28.10 Tuesday.

Obama’s resignation from the lucrative part-time position comes as she cutback her hours as a University of Chicago Hospitals vice president by 80 percent.

To showcase Obama’s role as chief surrogate for her husband, the campaign has orchestrated a high-profile media blitz in recent weeks.


It is amazing that politicians and their spouses become aware of their pay check payors only only after it becomes public that they are on these payrolls and it might have an influence on their standing in the polls. Money had only on interest before that, it was income. They accepted it as such and were happy.

Great...Now how many members of Congress and the Exective branch and the Courts have stock in vendors of Wal-Mart?

It is amazing that politicians and their spouses become aware of their pay check payors only only after it becomes public that they are on these payrolls and it might have an influence on their standing in the polls. Money had only on interest before that, it was income. They accepted it as such and were happy.

Its funny how life in America ceases to be in your hands once you join the public arena.

It is clear that with her role in the campaign growing Mrs. Obama is needing to cut back on her professional activities; including her job, and her role on this board. To suggest otherwise is silly and conspiratorial. Lynn, I assume your paper is sold in some Wal-Marts. If you were to have a disagreement with their labor practices would it compel you to leave the newspaper?

This shows that she is committed to Mr. Obama, and that she has convictions. Most of us would NOT have quit a job that promised to have added benefits in the near future. Most if not all of the people in our government now, including Hillary, would keep the job but still say the same things, in essence LIE to us. Cheers to Mrs. Obama

I'm not sure what the point of this piece was supposed to be but again Michelle Obama has proven herself to be incredibly supportive of her husband and a class act. She managed to gracefully support her husband's position on Wal-Mart without creating a mess for the board on which she had served. Kudos to her. I look forward to living in a country with a first family that presents this level of character to the world

to Rick: Don't just come down on Obama. Hilary Clinton was on the board of Wal-Mart when she was the First Lady of Arkansas..There all HYPOCRITES.

Hi all

If you want to know the extent Billary was for Wal-Mart go to and read the article he wrote about it. Along with his book "Armed Madhouse." The guy is totally brilliant!!!!

I think it's a hypocritical sham of Obama to quit the board of Wal-mart because her husband said, "he wouldnt shop there".!!. They've been living on the fruit of the Wal-mart industry to the tune of 50k+, but now that it's not to their political advantage to be associated and affiliated with the company.. She runs out as fast as she can.!..The political wheel must be grinding out some really good campaign gravy bucks now. Is she really saying, from now on these political palms will have to be greased alittle better to stay loyal to her commitments??..This only shows me they can be had and bought and thrown away as easily as sale shirts from Wal-mart!..After all who needs Wal-mart?! Only the majority working stiffs in America...thats who!! OF course they wouldnt shop at Wal-mart considering she's one of the 10 best dressed woman according to Vanity. Of course they think they're too good for Wal-mart and wouldn't sink that low and be caught buying things economically priced..especially not clothes made from slave labor...Why didnt she think of this before she joined the board of directors and endosed this company..She has outgrown it. She's makes the big bucks! Why don't they just say what they mean and mean what they say??!! I guess it's not in her best interest to stay loyal and committed to her obligations. We wouldn't want your greedy political toes to be stepping on anything as down to earth as Wal-mart..... 51k is mere pocket money compared to what lies ahead for you! Ride em high!. So, Obama think he's too good to shop at Walmart like the rest of the majority working class Americans do?.. This only shows me how "NOT So" down-to-earth they are..and how they probably don't have a clue about what the average person in America feels or needs. Why don't you practice some humility and buy some of your clothes where the majority of America shops?..Give something back to the American people for a change instead of always taking and taking...Shame on you not standing up for what you believe in and practicing what you preach to begin with..

can someone tell me why michelle signed off (at tree house foods) for the portland bay valley foods plant in northwest portland oregon,to close the plant down and ship our jobs to india? if you
look at the pickle jars in your stores today, there is proof, it doesnt matter the brand name, just that the labels say BAY VALLEY FOODS AND IS A PRODUCT OF INDIA. SO IS OBAMA KEEPING JOBS IN AMERICA OR SHIPPING THEM AWAY??????????? WE ARE FROM PORTLAND AND WE ARE LOSING OUR JOBS SO WE KNOW THE TRUTH OF WHY SHE RESIGNED.

Wonder why she was not aware of her husband's political feelings about Wal-Mart before his public denial? Maybe the $50 grand check was impeding her aural function. Some people get a "conscience" after politics helps them mature and grow up to be able to listen to the "real' facts.

Do you ever wonder why some people spend millions to get a job only paying $400k per year?

Shame on her for such a shallow excuse. Shame on you if you vote for either Obama. At least we know what Hillary is: a true politician. Barack parades around as a "true" agent of change. Flip flop should be his middle name...

i agree with what erin platt said, i think that is crazy that she would resign just because obama doesn't want to shop there they said this happened after she met him and she was his fiance at the time i think ? correct me if i am wrong. but now that i know this i hate that i even voted for him. it seemed like she was making alot of money working for that walmart branch and it is outrageous that she would quit because it was in the best interest of her family i.e. barack mainly and the company that she quit.

IT's sad to think the Democratic Canidate for President refuses to shop at Walmart,where so many of us common people shop.If he would support the store,maybe they would be able to pay their employees more,and lower their prices more.I'm sorry Michelle lost her job at one of Walmart's suppliers.Maybe if Barack would start shopping there, they would give Michelle a job there.I see a lot of my friends at Walmart,while shopping there.It would be nice to see Brack and Michelle there.

This is nothing more than politics being politics. Michelle Obama left her position at TreeHouse foods because of said company's relationship with Wal-Mart (the largest PRIVATE employer in the U.S). Organized labor(including its $?0,000,000 in campaign contributions and its -16,000,000+ members) has been putting intense pressure on Wal-Mart for many years now. It is a mistake to see this as a woman of principals, just doin' what's right. The Obama's are both very intelligent, litigious-(being they are both lawyers) individuals of whom were aware of Wal-Mart's business practices before the first check cleared. The bottom-line is that the Obama's new found righteousness is a result of some intense calculations that found.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 22, 2007 8:44 PM.

Sweet column: FTR/A look at Obama's Rezko explanation; Springfield lobbyists; Sudan divestment and citizen reporters putting Michelle on radar. was the previous entry in this blog.

Obamaville: Obama to deliver health policy speech next week. is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.