Political Money Monitor
The National Center for Public Policy Research
Amy Moritz Ridenour, President
20 F Street, NW #700 * Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 507-6398 * Fax (301) 498-1301
During the Proposition 226 ballot initiative campaign in California in 1998, the United Way briefly issued, but hastily retracted, a report alleging the initiative would hurt charitable giving. For correcting its error, Big Labor has made sure that at least the United Way is going to lose money.
Proposition 226, which did not pass, would have allowed labor union members to decide for themselves if they wanted union leaders to use a portion of their dues for union-sponsored political activity. Opponents charged Proposition 226 would also require member approval for union charitable activities. A United Way "legislative analysis" warning that charities could be overburdened by bureaucratic requirements bolstered this allegation. When it was pointed out by the California Attorney General's office and others that Proposition 226 only applied to political activity - of which charities are prohibited from engaging in at the risk of losing their non-profit status - the United Way retracted the memo and announced the group had "no organizational position" on the initiative.
In retaliation, the Plumbers, Pipefitters and Sprinklerfitters Union is no longer contributing to the United Way. In an advertisement titled "Why Our Union Won't Be Giving to the United Way This Year," General President Martin J. Maddaloni wrote that, in correcting its error, the United Way "took the corporate side on a political issue critical to working families across America." He added, "We will resume our support, but not until the United Way leaders restore their pledge to the slogan 'Labor Cares - Labor Shares.'"
Organized labor's control within the United Way, however, is thought
to be a factor in why the memo was released in the first place. The United
Way is required to have at least two AFL-CIO executive board members and
control over the hiring of at least seven United Way staffers under a 1974
"Memorandum of Understanding" with the union.
In the past few months, two state legislatures passed bills allowing labor union members to choose whether to contribute to union-supported political activity and existing laws prevailed in three states.
In Colorado, the State House of Representatives passed HB 1139 to prohibit the use of public funds to collect political contributions. The bill awaits a vote in the State Senate, and is supported by Governor Bill Owens. The South Dakota House of Representatives passed HB1293 requiring written approval before union dues can be spent on politics. Although the legislative session ended before a Senate vote, it will be reintroduced in the next session and is supported by Governor William Janklow.
In Idaho, State District Judge Daniel Eismann ruled against the Idaho
Education Association's challenge to the state's paycheck protection law,
saying it is "an important governmental interest of contributors not
being required to contribute to political causes that they do not favor."
In Florida, the Florida Election Commission ruled the Marion County Education
Association deducted PAC funds from teacher paychecks in violation of a
law prohibiting political solicitation or collection of funds in government
buildings. Lastly, in Washington, the Washington Education Association received
an additional $15,000 fine for withholding information about its 1996 political
strategy in the ongoing investigation into its violation of state paycheck
Campaign Finance Factoids
Pro-Labor Congressman Becomes Labor's #1 Target in 2000
Congressman Jack Quinn has sided with organized labor on more votes than probably any other Republican in Congress. His support for a minimum wage increase and opposition to the NAFTA trade agreement once earned him the AFL-CIO's "Man of the Year" honor. But now Quinn is one of Big Labor's top targets for defeat in the 2000 elections. Why? He voted to impeach Bill Clinton. "It defies logic," Quinn told the Washington Post. "I'm fighting my leadership all the time. I'm with the unions on every labor vote... Are they union leaders first, or are they Democrats first?"
AFL-CIO Plans Almost $50 Million Allocation to Defeat GOP
On February 17, the leadership of the AFL-CIO earmarked $46 million in union member dues to be spent on political efforts to return Congress to Democratic Party control. This is approximately twice the amount spent in 1998. Over the next two years, three-quarters of the money will be spent on issue campaign and get-out-the-vote efforts and the rest on paid media advertisements. This would be in addition to similar efforts by individual unions, which are estimated to total between $10 million and $12 million.
NAACP Engages in Partisan Activity, Violating IRS Code
The NAACP is a non-profit group, and therefore cannot participate in partisan political activity. Despite this clear IRS rule, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume recently solicited contributions with the boast that "We helped defeat anti-rights incumbent senators in New York and North Carolina [in the 1998 elections], and helped pick up five Democrat seats in the House." When New York Post columnist Michael Myers sought an explanation to this point of law, he was admonished by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, who evaded Myers' request by replying, "We are ever mindful that our enemies will seek any opportunity to embarrass us."