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    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    WSJ Investigation: Biggest spenders in 2010 election cycle - unions, NOT Karl Rove

    I've been following, with some interest, the Washington State senate race, featuring challenger Republican Dino Rossi, against the second dumbest person in Washington DC, incumbent Patty Murray.  I've mainly done this via Twitter, since the initial debate between them (which followed the Reid/Angle debate).

    That has led to some discussions about the funding of these candidates.  Rossi has raised quite a bit of money to make himself competitive in a very blue state, and having been the victim of a stolen gubernatorial race, you can understand he doesn't want to risk another close election, if possible.  A lot of Rossi's recent money has come from the Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads (that scorned upon, by Dems, Karl Rove group).  In fact, Rossi has collected $4.5M from these types of groups.  If you've been awake this week, you know Campaign Finance law allows these groups to not reveal their donors.  This is the crux of the Obamanut argument that "foreign" money is flowing into these groups.  It's, of course, a red herring, since these laws have existed since the passage of CFR and the Democrats made these very useful to them over the last three cycles.  They continue to do so today, as a matter of fact.  In fact, Patty Murray has raised over $600k from one single group, CNN reported "An organization called The Citizens and Strength and Security Action Fund has spent north of $640,000 on Murray' behalf but, as a 501(c)4 organization like Crossroads GPS and American Action Network, is not required to disclose its funding sources."  She's not exactly lilly pure.

    From the administration's ridiculous attacks on right-leaning groups who take advantage of this part of law, the Wall Street Journal this week decided to actually do some reporting on who is donating, and how much.

    That led to this article, which brings some interesting reality-based facts to the discussion.  Turns out the biggest spenders are Unions, leading the way is the service employees union.  The Chamber and American Crossroads, thankfully, are 2 and 3, followed by 2 more unions (see below).  Bottom line, unions are outspending these groups by 30%.


    I don't have a HUGE problem with unions spending money on political campaigns.  I do, however, reject the notion that unions spending money on these campaigns represents the political opinions of their rank and file.  Typically, these groups are funded from union dues, which, in non-right-to-work states, are extorted from workers who work at companies covered under a collective bargaining agreement, with no opt-out provision.  I should point out that Republicans have tried repeatedly over the years, as part of CFR efforts, to insert provisions that would allow workers to opt out of having portions of their dues go towards political campaigns, or that would require unions to create PACS just as management employees have to, and make contributions to these voluntary.

    Obviously, union leaders do not want this to happen, and for good reason.  Once their members realized 1) the amount of money being extorted from them for political purposes, they'd want it back, and 2) they would disagree with a lot of the spending done by their leadership, and seek to change it.  Either way, the net effect would be more responsiveness of union leaders to their rank and file, and less overall money available to union leaders to spend.

    We couldn't have either of those now, could we?

    Campaign finance laws are often byzantine and hard to understand.  They are, by and large, incumbent protection plans, regardless of which side you reside.  One thing almost all of us regular citizens agree on is that more transparency would go a long way to alleviating the problem.

    On the Right, we want unions to play by the same rules as everyone else, and we would generally like to see monetary limits removed.  On the Left, they just seem ok with the right having to be transparent.

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