AFSCME is "Big Dog," Takes Big Craps, When it Comes to Independent Campaign Expenditures


Check it out and see who's spending the most on "independent expenditures" this time around. From the Wall Street Journal:

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is now the biggest outside spender of the 2010 elections, thanks to an 11th-hour effort to boost Democrats that has vaulted the public-sector union ahead of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO and a flock of new Republican groups in campaign spending….

"We're the big dog," said Larry Scanlon, the head of AFSCME's political operations. "But we don't like to brag."…

From that top 5 list above, three unions have kicked in $171.5 million so far to help the cause. This spending boom is thanks to generous donations from you, the American taxpayer, who helped increase public-sector employment dramatically under George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Mr. Scanlon, who has run elections for AFSCME for nearly 15 years, acknowledged the connection between the number of government jobs and the union's political clout. "The more members coming in, the more dues coming in, the more money we have for politics," Mr. Scanlon said. AFSCME's membership has grown 25% in the past decade.

And the next time your left-wing friends start criticizing the Citizens United decision ("our Dred Scott," sayeth Keith Olbermann!), you can point out that it's made it slightly easier for unions to dump money into politics, since pre-Citizens United, "most labor-sponsored campaign ads had to be funded by volunteer donations. Now, however, AFSCME can pay for ads using annual dues from members, which amount to about $390 per person. AFSCME said it will tap membership dues to pay for $17 million of ads backing Democrats this election."

Which is fine by me, as Citizens United expanded the scope of speech for smaller players and (more directly) pushed back on the government censoring explicitly political speech.

And to keep all this money in perspective, remember this:

Campaign spending by outside groups is increasing rapidly but is still smaller than spending by the Democratic and Republican parties, which combined have already doled out nearly $1 billion in this election cycle, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

More here. Hat tip: It's gotta be Vanneman!

Yesterday, Jacob Sullum noted that Dems are preemptively blaming the midterm losses on a lack of money, which is cool except for that fact that it's untrue. Sullum cites David Brooks, who says that independent expenditures will run about 10 percent of party money-dumps.

The WSJ talked with a White House spokesman about the union clout and the SCOTUS decision, since Obama was one of the most-outspoken critics of Citizens United. The spokesman responded with:

The president has been crystal clear that third-party groups which spend tens of millions of dollars from anonymous sources are a threat to our democracy.

Which seems like a good time to ask Who Is Publius? And Why Should We Trust His Federalist Papers?:


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  1. The president has been crystal clear that third-party groups which spend tens of millions of dollars from anonymous sources are a threat to our democracy.

    However, AFSCME is not a “third party”. As government workers, they are constitutionally (in the genetic, not “goddam piece of paper” sense) incapable of advocating any position or program with which our sitting President disagrees, or which would have an adverse effect on “democracy” as He understands it.

    1. I was against the Citizens United decision until I was for it.

      1. What the hell? That should have been spoken by John Kerry. Fuckin’ squirrel.

        1. Even Joke-Handle John Kerry is unreliable.

  2. Hat tip: It’s gotta be Vanneman Herpes!

    You get to keep it forever. Like luggage.

  3. So the President really would support that Australian law requiring you to post your name and postal code whenever making a political statement, huh?

  4. So, MNG, if any corporate ad should be approved by a supermajority of stockholders before it is run, should any union ad be approved by a supermajority of union members before it is run?

      1. Well, one group of people (corporations) pay taxes on their wealth-generating activities while another group of people (unions) do not.

        I seem to remember this whole “taxation without representation” problem creating quite a mess previously.

        1. Something about a certain tree getting thirsty, yes?

      2. Amen!

    1. Great idea, RC. I’d add that all union members should be able to opt out any portion of their dues for advertising and advocacy… without regard to their political affiliation.

      1. In most states they are. I’m not sure any public agency has closed shop rules anymore.

        Under agency shop rules, members can request a rebate from AFSCME (agreed upon rate is 30% of dues) for “objectionable” expenses related to political activity.

        Out of 1.6 million members, about 12,000 claim the rebate a year.

        1. Probably the biggest reason few opt out is due to their political affiliation.

          However, its worth noting dues are about $8 a month ($96 a year), so the rebate is worth about $28.80. I’m sure a good proportion mind find the activities objectionable but don’t find the rebate worth the time and effort it takes to claim it.

          1. I just gave a presentation on these fuckers last week, which explains why I know all of this. I can source if anyone’s curious.

      2. This opt-out idea sounds good. I wonder why it’s not more popular.


  5. This isn’t a surprise. According to OpenSecrets.org, AFSCME is #2 on the Heavy Hitters list of political spenders with 98% of the money going to one party. You guess which one.

    AFSCME tends to spend most of their money directly supporting politicians, which is subject to election law restrictions, whereas SEIU tends to spend much more on 527 committees. SEIU completely dominates in 527 spending.

  6. AFSCME and the AFT are spending big on California Proposition 27, whose aim is to institutionalize the one-party rule in California. The California Legislature, whom would again draw political boundaries if Proposition 27 passes, is dominated by one political party with a nearly 2-to-1 majority in the California Legislature. Again, you guess which.

  7. Man, they really do hate California.

  8. From the Wall Street Journal

    Ha! Rupert Murdoch is the devil! He lies, he lies!

    1. You should see the comments at HuffPost about the Glee pictures–it’s somehow Rupert Murdoch’s fault since he owns the channel Glee airs on. He’s causing the downfall of American society or something.

      1. Wait, were the Huffsters against the pictures? If so, for what reason?

        1. No, silly. They were just against Rupert Murdoch.

        2. Good question. It is the first time I have ever seen Glee in a positive light.

        3. Thin attractive women? Oh wait, that’s the jezebel crowd that thinks hourglass=pro-ana.

  9. I’d note that the numbers given for the Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads spending are substantially larger than those quoted from Brooks’ column by Sullum just yesterday. So you can either trust the WSJ or Brooks, but you can’t trust both. (My vote: Go with the WSJ and be highly suspicious of Brooks.)

  10. The president has been crystal clear that third-party groups which spend tens of millions of dollars from anonymous sources are a threat to our democracy.

    Don’t mind the man behind the curtain.

    1. It’s interesting, however disturbing, to ask which “us” the “our” is referring to. It’s certainly threatening to Obama’s regime.

      1. Re: Tulpa,

        “Our democracy” in liber-speak should be taken as “my meal ticket.”

  11. AFSCME needs to change its beep-beepin’ name already!

    1. How about LEECH?

      Laborless Entitlement Employment Created by Hipsters


      Retarded Americans Trying to Further their Union Communist Kink by Ending our Republic in favor of Socialism

  12. Damn. I’m at work or I’d link to the AFSCME spoof commercial on YouTube.

      1. Thanks, mate.

  13. Much more inteesting than who is spending how much is the IQ deficit on the right. Why is every movement you libertoid dimwits see hope in so full of total fucking ignoramuses? Have I answered my own question?

    1. Max: H & R’s pet yorkie.

      Here, boy! That’s a good boy!

    2. I love you, son. Let me know if you need to go potty and I’ll loosen your restraints.

    3. Not only does this statement display a courage that is rarely seen today, it was also delivered in genuine frontier gibberish.

  14. But… but… NPR said the Right is totally dominating independent contributions this election cycle!

    1. Juan Williams said this the other day and I thought, “What a tool.” I think that bad karma going his way from me is what got him fired.

    2. Since the DNC is an co-owned subsidiary of AFSCME and the SEIU, can we really call these “independent contributions”?

      1. AFSCME and SEIU are certainly not alone. Take a gander at the Heavy Hitters in American political spending.

        #2: AFSCME (98% to Democrats)
        #6: American Association for Justice, a.k.a. Trial Lawyers (90% to Democrats)
        #7: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, IBEW (97% to Democrats)
        #8: National Education Association, NEA (93% to Democrats)
        #9: Laborers Union (92% to Democrats)
        #10: SEIU (95% to Democrats)

        1. That is a pretty complete list of the co-owners of the DNC. I guess it is more of a limited partnership than a subsidiary.

            1. Maybe they only contribute like 80% of their money to the DNC so it won’t show up on a list of the top 10 with over 90% to the Democrats.

  15. The best part is that Dem supporters are going to spend record amounts of money, and the Dems will still probably get killed, so all that money will have been for naught. Oh noes!

    1. But money destroys politics. Whoever spends the most money always wins. It has magical effects on voters.

      1. “Anything is possible in IMAAAAAGINATION LAND.”

  16. The Number of Public Sector Employees is TOO DAMN HIGH Party. Unwieldy acronyms for everybody!

  17. And here I thought AIPAC owned Congress.

  18. Money in politics is just the symptom of the problem. The real problem is that these a**holes have too much power. Take away the power to pick winners and losers, and watch the special interest money dwindle.

  19. The Government union is running a pretty divisive political add here in Saint Louis.

    A transcrpt of the add.

    1. Fuck your antiquated idiotic spam filter with a flaming dead fish.

      Gateway Pundit on the subject.

      1. Better to be a “teabagg-er” than a “teabagg-ee.”

        1. I guess that depends on what you call a good time?

  20. Under agency shop rules, members can request a rebate from AFSCME (agreed upon rate is 30% of dues) for “objectionable” expenses related to political activity.

    Of course, there would be no consequences whatsoever from this. None!

    And, of course, the union would promptly and cheerfully make the required adjustments.

    1. About all a public employee union can do is shun you, so I doubt the consequences would be too terrible. (The character of most of one’s fellow union members is such that this may actually be a good thing.)

      The bureaucratic bullshit you have to go through to get the rebate is probably the biggest issue. That, and I imagine most public employees are Democrats and don’t object to the expenses anyway.

      1. I’ve never worked in a government union, but I have worked for government and I can tell you first hand not toeing the line or pissing off those in charge never ends well. The IO structure of government is vastly different than that of companies.

  21. Let me get this straight…

    1. Union backed politician increases government staff.
    2. Most of staff joins government union.
    3. Union officials give tax dollars to candidates favoring expansion of government.
    4. Union backed candidates win.
    5. Government and unions expand.
    6. Rinse (vilify Republicans & corporations), Wash (media), Repeat steps 1-6.

    Why do we allow this? Why aren’t we stopping it? Do we WANT to end up like Greece?

    1. The answer, it seems, is yes.

  22. The good news is that money doesn’t buy elections (right?), so they’re just pissing their members’ wages away for nothing.

    1. I don’t think anyone said money doesn’t help in elections?

      Careful, it’s fall and we’re behind on our rainfall #’s your strawman could catch fire.

  23. I find it totally, like, dudetotally stunning that Citi and Goldman were in the top fifteen of the OpenSecrets top all-time donors from 1989-2010. Shocked, I tell you, shocked! WE’RE JUZ REDNEX FOR KWESTIONING THE EXPERTISE OF THE SENETERS!

    Nothing to see here, just move along – dead person, blood, gagging, AKs, screaming zombies, but move along…

  24. dang, I know it’s a little late but…

  25. Where did the graph come from? Who created it?

    I don’t understand the Union bashing. Unions are workers of America. Why scapegoat Americans that join together to ensure they get decent wages and benefits?

    Is it just because they support Democrats?

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