Public employee unions have the pedal to the metal on campaign spending

The major public employee union, the Association of Federal, State, County, and Municipal Employees (ASFSCME), is now stepping up efforts to swing elections to politicians who will do their bidding. Recall, how Barack Obama rebuked the Supreme Court during his State of the Union address for its Citizens United ruling - the ruling that affirmed that corporations enjoy first amendment rights during campaigns? All a smoke screen, a feint to distract attention that the ruling has prompted unions, especially public unions, to pour money into campaigns.
In recent weeks, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the AFL-CIO have begun to use the new Citizens United rules to promote their preferred candidates in closely fought contests, such as Lt. Gov. Bill Halter's challenge to Sen. Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas' Democratic Senate primary, and the special election in Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district, which Democrat Mark Critz won in mid-May. In a television ad that started airing late last month, AFSCME whacked Lincoln for moving her family permanently to Washington and taking money from corporate interests. "Blanche Lincoln packed up and left us years ago. Maybe it's time for us to send her packing, for good," the ad concludes.

This ad is an example of "express advocacy"-defined as explicitly telling the public to vote for or against a specific candidate. Before the Citizens United ruling, corporations, unions, and other independent groups could only run express advocacy ads if they were funded by political action committees, which are restricted to $5,000 donations each year from individuals-a category known as "hard money." Now, those groups can use any funds for these campaign efforts-an unrestricted category called "soft money." Because these groups typically have far more soft money than hard money on hand, this significantly increases their potential budget for advertising that directly attacks or supports a candidate.

"You couldn't say a lot of things before that you can now, with different money," says AFSCME deputy political director Ricky Feller, who confirmed that the union used soft money to fund the TV ad. Campaign finance experts say the AFSCME ad is a good example of what's possible in a post-Citizens United world. Kenneth Gross, a campaign finance lawyer at Skadden, says the new rules could help unions and other groups "have their voices heard, will have an impact on the process and will have an impact on the candidates."

 

According to an article in the Hill, AFSCME will spend $50 million dollars by November on political campaigns. The teachers union is spending money to defeat candidates who favor charter schools.They are spending millions to defeat Blanche Lincoln in the Democratic Senatorial primary in Arkansas.

Remember that report when government workers complain about being underpaid and overworked? They have it exactly backwards: overpaid and underworked is more apt. As a matter of fact, Barack Obama is making it easier for government workers to slack off because his administration is drafting new rules that cut back the monitoring of how government workers fill their day.

The AFSCME was also behind efforts to secretly fund anti-Tea Party efforts via its pouring money into so-called "astroturf" groups that disguise the source of the funding, while appearing to be genuine grassroots efforts . The AFSCME does not want taxpayers asserting their rights. They just want to force them to pay their ever-increasing taxes because they are also spending their union dues to campaign for tax hikes, and for candidates who will vote for them . It has been flush times for public employees - on our dime - and they want the gravy train to continue flowing: from our wallets and savings accounts to theirs.


The major public employee union, the Association of Federal, State, County, and Municipal Employees (ASFSCME), is now stepping up efforts to swing elections to politicians who will do their bidding. Recall, how Barack Obama rebuked the Supreme Court during his State of the Union address for its Citizens United ruling - the ruling that affirmed that corporations enjoy first amendment rights during campaigns? All a smoke screen, a feint to distract attention that the ruling has prompted unions, especially public unions, to pour money into campaigns.

In recent weeks, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the AFL-CIO have begun to use the new Citizens United rules to promote their preferred candidates in closely fought contests, such as Lt. Gov. Bill Halter's challenge to Sen. Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas' Democratic Senate primary, and the special election in Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district, which Democrat Mark Critz won in mid-May. In a television ad that started airing late last month, AFSCME whacked Lincoln for moving her family permanently to Washington and taking money from corporate interests. "Blanche Lincoln packed up and left us years ago. Maybe it's time for us to send her packing, for good," the ad concludes.

This ad is an example of "express advocacy"-defined as explicitly telling the public to vote for or against a specific candidate. Before the Citizens United ruling, corporations, unions, and other independent groups could only run express advocacy ads if they were funded by political action committees, which are restricted to $5,000 donations each year from individuals-a category known as "hard money." Now, those groups can use any funds for these campaign efforts-an unrestricted category called "soft money." Because these groups typically have far more soft money than hard money on hand, this significantly increases their potential budget for advertising that directly attacks or supports a candidate.

"You couldn't say a lot of things before that you can now, with different money," says AFSCME deputy political director Ricky Feller, who confirmed that the union used soft money to fund the TV ad. Campaign finance experts say the AFSCME ad is a good example of what's possible in a post-Citizens United world. Kenneth Gross, a campaign finance lawyer at Skadden, says the new rules could help unions and other groups "have their voices heard, will have an impact on the process and will have an impact on the candidates."

 

According to an article in the Hill, AFSCME will spend $50 million dollars by November on political campaigns. The teachers union is spending money to defeat candidates who favor charter schools.They are spending millions to defeat Blanche Lincoln in the Democratic Senatorial primary in Arkansas.

Remember that report when government workers complain about being underpaid and overworked? They have it exactly backwards: overpaid and underworked is more apt. As a matter of fact, Barack Obama is making it easier for government workers to slack off because his administration is drafting new rules that cut back the monitoring of how government workers fill their day.

The AFSCME was also behind efforts to secretly fund anti-Tea Party efforts via its pouring money into so-called "astroturf" groups that disguise the source of the funding, while appearing to be genuine grassroots efforts . The AFSCME does not want taxpayers asserting their rights. They just want to force them to pay their ever-increasing taxes because they are also spending their union dues to campaign for tax hikes, and for candidates who will vote for them . It has been flush times for public employees - on our dime - and they want the gravy train to continue flowing: from our wallets and savings accounts to theirs.


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