PR pro poses as a reporter to spy on anti-Walmart group

The agency that employed the public relations professional said she went rogue and is no longer with the company.

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On June 6, Stephanie Harnett identified herself as USC student “Zoe Mitchell” to attend a closed press conference held by Warehouse Workers United (WWU), a group that advocates on behalf of Walmart warehouse. A WWU representative described the situation to Gawker:

“[Harnett] talked to a warehouse worker for 20 minutes and she tape recorded the interview and asked lots of detailed questions about the bad conditions in which he worked. Warehouse worker said she was shaking the whole time…”

On Wednesday, June 13, she reportedly attended another WWU press conference, except this time she handed out business cards with her actual identity: senior associate with Mercury Public Affairs, a firm that is working with Walmart on the launch of a new store in L.A.’s Chinatown area.

WWU posted the details of the story, along with a picture of Harnett and her fake credentials, on its blog.

Becky Warren, a managing director at Mercury Public Affairs, said in an emailed statement:

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