Three of the six members of the Walton family who occupy space on the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans are in the top ten, and a fourth ranks at number 11. They have a collective worth of about $100 billion, and as of 2007, the family commanded more wealth than the entire bottom 30 percent of Americans. They use their disproportionate capital to exert a disproportionate influence over American politics.

The family’s wealth is the legacy of Walmart founder Sam Walton and his brother James, a co-founder. Just under 50 percent of the company’s publicly traded shares are still owned by the family company, Walton Enterprises. Although Sam Walton wasn’t particularly involved in politics, his children and those of his brother (plus one widowed daughter-in-law, Christy Walton, who currently ranks as the richest woman in the world) have become increasingly political since the late 1990s. They supported President George W. Bush, donating $2.6 million to Progress for America in support of his re-election. During Bush’s tenure, Walton Enterprises hired a lobbyist to push for a low-tax agenda that included the repeal of the estate tax. The 2012 election cycle’s contributions from Walton family members, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, “favor the right decisively.” They’ve given at least $400,000 to pro-Mitt Romney super PAC Restore our Future, and also supported a super PAC favoring Jon Huntsman.

Through the Walton Family Foundation, whose board of directors consists entirely of members of the family, the Waltons hand out a few hundred million dollars per year in charitable donations. In 2010, the foundation’s giving totaled nearly $1.5 billion, thanks largely to an $800 million grant to establish the Crystal Bridges art museum in Arkansas.

While the charities the foundation supports vary widely, of particular interest are environmental conservation and “school choice,” the semi-privatization of the public school system through vouchers and charter schools. In 2011, the foundation’s school choice grants exceeded $159 million, $58 million of which was spent on initiatives seeking to impact public policy. The top recipients were the Charter School Growth Fund, followed by Teach for America, to which the foundation has pledged nearly $50 million over the next five years.

The foundation has also donated generously to the conservative infrastructure. A top recipient over the years has been the Hoover Institution, receiving over $4 million. Over $1.5 million has gone to the Center for Policy Studies. Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the Manhattan Institute, and the climate science skeptics at the Heartland Institute have each gotten hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation have received tens of thousands.

10,330 transactions on record as a donor.

Ordered By: Year (Newer to Older)

1Walton Family Foundation4.0 Schools$646,4672012+
2Walton Family Foundation50CAN Inc$1,650,0002012+
3Walton Family FoundationAcademy 360$250,0002012+
4Walton Family FoundationAcademy for Global Citizenship Charter School$250,0002012+
5Walton Family FoundationAcademy for Global Citizenship Charter School$30,0002012+
6Walton Family FoundationAccelerate Arkansas$75,0002012+
7Walton Family FoundationACE Charter High School$250,0002012+
8Walton Family FoundationAchievement Network LTD$62,5002012+
9Walton Family FoundationAfrican Parks Foundation of America$500,0002012+
10Walton Family FoundationAg Technology and Environmental Stewardship Foundation Inc$75,0002012+
11Walton Family FoundationAgricultural Watershed Institute$46,2112012+
12Walton Family FoundationAgudath Israel of America Inc.$500,0002012+
13Walton Family FoundationAlliance for School Choice Inc.$1,700,0002012+
14Walton Family FoundationAlliance for Water Efficiency$35,0002012+
15Walton Family FoundationAmandla Charter School$250,0002012+
16Walton Family FoundationAmerican Bird Conservancy$50,7872012+
17Walton Family FoundationAmerican Center for School Choice$125,0002012+
18Walton Family FoundationAmerican Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research$182,1032012+
19Walton Family FoundationAmerican Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research$40,0002012+
20Walton Family FoundationAmerican Farmland Trust$395,9802012+
21Walton Family FoundationAmerican Heart Association Phoenix$15,0002012+
22Walton Family FoundationAmerican Quarter Horse Foundation$50,0002012+
23Walton Family FoundationAmerican Rivers Inc.$262,4002012+
24Walton Family FoundationAmerican Rivers Inc.$52,0262012+
25Walton Family FoundationAmerican Whitewater$109,1452012+
26Walton Family FoundationAmericans for Prosperity Foundation$325,0002012+
27Walton Family FoundationAmerica's Charter School$10,0002012+
28Walton Family FoundationAmon Carter Museum of Western Art$589,8002012+
29Walton Family FoundationAOPA Foundation Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association$15,0002012+
30Walton Family FoundationApple Academy Charter Public Schools$250,0002012+
31Walton Family FoundationARC4H Academy $250,0002012+
32Walton Family FoundationArea Agency on Aging of Northwest Arkansas Foundation$15,0002012+
33Walton Family FoundationArizona Autism Charter Schools Inc.$30,0002012+
34Walton Family FoundationArizona Charter Schools Association$586,4752012+
35Walton Family FoundationArizona Charter Schools Association$150,0002012+
36Walton Family FoundationArizona Community Foundation$306,1642012+
37Walton Family FoundationArizona Land and Water Trust Inc.$221,2242012+
38Walton Family FoundationArizona School Choice Administration Corporation$100,0002012+
39Walton Family FoundationArizona Science Center$335,0002012+
40Walton Family FoundationArizona State Parks Foundation$129,1872012+
41Walton Family FoundationArkansans for Education Reform Foundation$2,073,7502012+
42Walton Family FoundationArkansans for Education Reform Foundation$15,0002012+
43Walton Family FoundationArkansas Aims - Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science Inc$1,124,4092012+
44Walton Family FoundationArkansas Arts Center Foundation$105,0002012+
45Walton Family FoundationArkansas Athletes Outreach$10,0002012+
46Walton Family FoundationArkansas Children's Hospital$15,0002012+
47Walton Family FoundationArkansas Children's Hospital Foundation$10,0002012+
48Walton Family FoundationArkansas Community Foundation$40,0002012+
49Walton Family FoundationArkansas Department of Education$398,0002012+
50Walton Family FoundationArkansas Education Total$9,317,7572012+
Contributions from private foundations and other nonprofit entities are based on a review of publicly available Forms 990 filed with the Internal Revenue Service. For more information about our methodology, visit our about page.