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Wal-Mart Dumps Mercury

Some unsurprising news to get the week started: Wal-Mart has ended its relationship with Mercury Public Relations, the firm that ran into trouble when one of its staffers was caught pretending to be a reporter to get into a closed presser.

Wal-Mart’s senior director of community affairs Steven Restivo told the L.A. Times, “We take this matter seriously and have taken the appropriate steps to ensure this type of activity is not repeated.”

The associate in question, Stephanie Harnett, has already been fired. Becky Warren, the firm’s MD, said they had no prior knowledge of Harnett’s plans. Many doubted that Harnett, a young associate only a few years out of college, would act alone. But when we followed up with Warren about the issue, she reiterated, “It was unacceptable and an action we would never, under any circumstances, authorize.”

Wal-Mart is trying to open a store in Los Angeles’ Chinatown district. Harnett was caught infiltrating a closed press conference hosted by Warehouse Workers United, a group that represents the interests of warehouse employees. She was then spotted some days later at another WWU event handing out business cards and telling people she works for Wal-Mart.

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