(Page 2 of 2)
Three other Republicans in the General Assembly received more than $1,000 from the UFCW this year: Speaker of the House Sam Smith (R-Jefferson); state Rep. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe); and state Sen. Dave Argall (R-Schuylkill).
All told, 15 Republicans took a combined total of $12,000 from the union during 2012. By comparison, 74 Democratic candidates for office got $43,000 from the UFCW during the year, with nine of them receiving more than $1,000 each.
Top Democratic recipients were state Sen. Christina Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia), Auditor General Jack Wagner, and former state Reps. Kevin Murphy (D-Lackawanna), and Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia), who both lost in the primary election last April.
The remainder of the unions’ contributions went to political action committees and get-out-the-vote efforts.
It’s no secret that unions are among the most powerful forces in Pennsylvania politics.
During the 2012 election cycle, private-sector unions in Pennsylvania gave more than $2.8 million to candidates and political action committees at the state level, according to data gathered by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that tracks political spending.
Public-sector unions in the state contributed another $1.6 million, according to the same data.
All told, the unions’ grand total of $4.4 million made them the most powerful political voice in the state in terms of dollars spent on the election.
The UFCW’s contributions account for only about 3 percent of that total, far behind heavier hitters like the Pennsylvania State Education Association, a teachers’ union, which gave more than $662,000 during 2012, easily the highest total from any single union in the state.
But with liquor privatization a hot button topic in Harrisburg,
scrutiny of UFCW contributions is bound to take place.
Matt Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, a free-market think tank in Harrisburg that supports privatization of the liquor stores, said he was not surprised the union was spending on both Democrats and Republicans.
“Republicans hold the keys to the government unions’ monopoly power over our wine and spirit purchases,” Brouillette said. “They win while the taxpayers lose. And they will keep spending on politics to keep it that way.”
If the liquor stores were privatized, the union would lose about 3,000 members and the dues payments that go with them. Those dues help fund the political activities of the union.
But Young said the real reason the liquor stores have not been privatized is because lawmakers—including many Republican lawmakers—realize it will not be a profitable move for the state.
This article originally appeared at Pennsylvania Independent.