WSJ: Unions contribute four times what FEC disclosures show

posted at 12:41 pm on July 10, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Lost in all the screeching over the Citizens United ruling two years ago was the fact that unions have largely been exempt from campaign-finance restrictions on speech.  Unions spent a fortune in 2010, far more than the corporations will in this election, no matter what the hysterics think.  In fact, according to FEC reports from that election, unions accounted for three of the top five outside groups in spending for the midterms — specifically, public-sector unions AFSCME, SEIU, and the NEA.

Today, the Wall Street Journal reports that even those numbers are deceiving as to the real spending by unions, with or without Citizens United.  They calculate that the total amount contributed by unions in elections and in lobbying may be four times larger than what appears in the FEC reports:

Organized labor spends about four times as much on politics and lobbying as generally thought, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, a finding that shines a light on an aspect of labor’s political activity that has often been overlooked. …

The new figures come from a little-known set of annual reports to the Labor Department in which local unions, their national parents and labor federations have been required to detail their spending on politics and lobbying since 2005.

This kind of spending, which is on the rise, has enabled the largest unions to maintain and in some cases increase their clout in Washington and state capitals, even though unionized workers make up a declining share of the workforce. The result is that labor could be a stronger counterweight than commonly realized to “super PACs” that today raise millions from wealthy donors, in many cases to support Republican candidates and causes.

The hours spent by union employees working on political matters were equivalent in 2010 to a shadow army much larger than President Barack Obama’s current re-election staff, data analyzed by the Journal show.

The difference comes in union communications to members, which don’t have to be reported to the FEC, as well as a host of organizing activities that relate directly to politics and lobbying.  It does, however, have to be reported to the Labor Department, but those reports are often overlooked.  The WSJ shows the disparity between FEC and Labor reporting in this sidebar graphic.

In looking at this graphic, it’s clear that Democrats — which receive nearly all of union donations and support in elections — had their first billion-dollar-plus campaign in 2008, not in 2012.  The FEC-reported combination of political spending in 2010 for the three big PEUs was $171.5 million, but that’s dwarfed by the actual level of political activism from Big Labor in that cycle, which went above $1.3 billion, when counting 2009 and 2010 together. And Democrats still lost in those midterms — by a wide margin.

Remember this when the Left complains that Republicans and Mitt Romney want to buy elections, or that corporate political needs to be restricted or barred altogether from the political process.  Until Citizens United, Big Labor — which has a vested interest in continually growing the size of government at all levels and electing the politicians with whom they get to negotiate their contracts — not only had the field mostly to themselves, but they also had a stealth campaign environment which gave them vastly more influence than anyone realized.


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Look squirrel Koch Brothers!

-lsm

cmsinaz on July 10, 2012 at 12:43 PM

I wish Scott Walker was on the ticket.

LeftCoastRight on July 10, 2012 at 12:43 PM

hello gop, speak up for cripe sakes

cmsinaz on July 10, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Unions have political power? Who knew? And unions have money to throw around to politicians? Who knew?

But I’m sure it’s for “the public good”!

GarandFan on July 10, 2012 at 12:45 PM

75 years ago unions existed to create safe working conditions and fair wages for their members.

Today they exist solely to transfer a certain percentage of all government spending to the democrat party.

wildcat72 on July 10, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Doubtful this thread will reel in any trolls.

kirkill on July 10, 2012 at 12:45 PM

but, but, but…the GOP is spending money on TV Ads!

kirkill on July 10, 2012 at 12:47 PM

Unions are the right testicle of Communism.

OhEssYouCowboys on July 10, 2012 at 12:47 PM

A Communist is just a liberal in a hurry!

Bevan on July 10, 2012 at 12:48 PM

liberals hate free speech

gwelf on July 10, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Also what’s the monetary value of the significant left-wing spin of the main stream media?

What’s the monetary value of the Washington Post purposely lying and distorting Romney’s record?

gwelf on July 10, 2012 at 12:50 PM

How much is the intimidation factor worth?

derecho on July 10, 2012 at 12:51 PM

Why not a right-wing labor union?
What’s to stop small conservative business’s from forming a “union”?

redguy on July 10, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Unions spent a fortune in 2010, far more than the corporations will in this election, no matter what the hysterics think.

I was going to bookmark this for future use but then I figured why bother. Libtards are impervious to facts.

Kataklysmic on July 10, 2012 at 12:53 PM

How much of those union dues are compulsory?

Imagine the aneurysms on the left if they had to fund the Koch brothers as a condition of their employment.

gwelf on July 10, 2012 at 12:53 PM

A Communist is just a liberal in a hurry!

Bevan on July 10, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Zing! Is that your own creation? It certainly made me laugh.

Mord on July 10, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Why not a right-wing labor union?
What’s to stop small conservative business’s from forming a “union”?

redguy on July 10, 2012 at 12:52 PM

When businesses do that it’s called collusion.

The law, for some reason, allows unions to form monopolies and collude though, such as the UAW which is a complete monopoly of union auto worker labor, for example.

wildcat72 on July 10, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Just be unified without a union.

derecho on July 10, 2012 at 12:54 PM

If you believe this report then you will have to be thumped around the head and neck by a few SEIU goons until you unbelieve.

Bishop on July 10, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Doubtful this thread will reel in any trolls.

kirkill on July 10, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Heh. :)

Remember people, pull your flak jackets from the end of the row, not the middle. And don’t get drawn into the woods — hold your points.

Axe on July 10, 2012 at 12:57 PM

“And Democrats still lost in those midterms — by a wide margin.”

“Just throw more money at it…” – Union Goon

Seven Percent Solution on July 10, 2012 at 12:58 PM

Romney/Walker

Schadenfreude on July 10, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Also what’s the monetary value of the significant left-wing spin of the main stream media?

What’s the monetary value of the Washington Post purposely lying and distorting Romney’s record?

gwelf on July 10, 2012 at 12:50 PM

My father-in-law did a back-of-the-envelope calculation for ’08 based on the value of lost circulation among the major newspapers (i.e. attributing decline in circulation to the increasing left-wing/pro-Obama bias). I forget the exact dollar amount he came up with, but it was pretty significant.

sadarj on July 10, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Is there any way to get true money facts out of dc? I know, stupid question, NO WAY that would happen!
L

letget on July 10, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Nothing to see you you dirty unwashed serf’s now move along, Oh look MSLSD has a nice new shiny object to hold your fragile attention.

SWalker on July 10, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Congressional hearings on the undue political influence of greedy unions in 3, 2, 1…

Pew to put together a series of fake polls to show that the public is concerned about the undue political influence of greedy unions…

slickwillie2001 on July 10, 2012 at 1:03 PM

Good. Let them keep wasting money. Americans are waking up thankfully. Hopefully they stay awake this time and don’t repeat 2008.

Yakko77 on July 10, 2012 at 1:03 PM

Does all this money get … hey, what happens to all this money?

It can’t just get burnt up in bumper-stickers.

Axe on July 10, 2012 at 1:04 PM

I’m sending this article to every academic that I know. Many of them are resentful of the closed shop that is academia, and resent being shackled to the union regardless of which political party they support.

Surprising, I know. However, if we look at the results of Walker’s efforts in Wisconsin, we get a clearer look at just how many who are union members would choose to be unfettered.

This kind of information, which details where those forced dues and contributions are actually going rather than into better benefits for the membership, will add incentive for them to stand up and do something to free themselves.

Independents aren’t just on the rise in swing states. They are on the rise in certain union dominated strongholds as well. The difference is that the academics will not disclose their change of affiliation for fear of losing tenure or their positions, however, once sequestered in the privacy of the voting booth they are freed to express their own views effectively.

By the way, I think the reason that Independents are on the rise, more so than registered Republicans, is that its an easier leap for Democrats to declare themselves ‘Independent’ than it is to make the leap all the way to Republican in one step. A middle ground, if you will, that allows them time to examine their new ideology. They’ve spent their adult lives to date believing that they held polar opposite views to the GOP. Ideologically, Independent allows them time to begin to listen to both sides of the argument, often for the first time.

thatsafactjack on July 10, 2012 at 1:05 PM

That picture of bho looks as if he just passed gas and wonders if anyone heard it?
L

letget on July 10, 2012 at 1:06 PM

If you believe this report then you will have to be thumped around the head and neck by a few SEIU goons until you unbelieve.

Bishop on July 10, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Indeed, how profoundly kind of the SEIU to gentle thump the noggins of those whose thought process are confused and need just a little nudge to properly focus…

SWalker on July 10, 2012 at 1:07 PM

May they go the way of Wisconsin.

Schadenfreude on July 10, 2012 at 1:07 PM

If you believe this report then you will have to be thumped around the head and neck by a few SEIU goons until you unbelieve.

Bishop on July 10, 2012 at 12:55 PM

We need to do an “Occupy Main Street” to show these purple thugs who is boss.

Romney/Walker

Schadenfreude on July 10, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Walker Texas Ranger. hehe

SparkPlug on July 10, 2012 at 1:08 PM

I’m sending this article to every academic that I know. Many of them are resentful of the closed shop that is academia, and resent being shackled to the union regardless of which political party they support.

thatsafactjack on July 10, 2012 at 1:05 PM

You really ought to put the crack pipe down.

SWalker on July 10, 2012 at 1:08 PM

That picture of bho looks as if he just passed gas and wonders if anyone heard it?
L

letget on July 10, 2012 at 1:06 PM

With his ego, I bet he thinks it smells like roses.

Liam on July 10, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Mr. Peebles, the Obama fund-raiser, echoed objections among some other Democrats, many with ties to the financial industry, over what he said were unreasonable attacks on the wealthy by the Obama campaign.

“I just got back from Rhode Island on my boat,” Mr. Peebles said, referring to criticism of Mr. Romney’s much-photographed vacation boating last week on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee. “I can hold 12 people on my boat. I don’t feel that I’m out of touch with Americans or that I am a bad person. I find it offensive, and I’m a supporter.”

Schadenfreude on July 10, 2012 at 1:17 PM

No wonder Obama was so steamed and couldn’t control his anger about Citizens United. He struck out verbally at the Supremes like a kid whose stolen candy got confiscated.

Big Labor finally lost it’s under the radar advantage. Citizens United simply leveled the playing field a bit.

marybel on July 10, 2012 at 1:19 PM

I guess it doesn’t really matter how much money unions spend when this is the result.

NotCoach on July 10, 2012 at 1:19 PM

O/T

Remember Jazz’s post from earlier about DWS harping about Romney’s Swiss Bank account and not releasing his tax returns?

Look what we have here.

Wasserman-Schultz Invested in Swiss Banks

Disclosure forms reveal that Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a member of Congress from Florida, previously held funds with investments in Swiss banks, foreign drug companies, and the state bank of India.

Flora Duh on July 10, 2012 at 1:21 PM

Executive Order 10988 has to be voided, screeching from the left be damned. Defanging this cobra is the most important political task that any Republican President ever faced.

Archivarix on July 10, 2012 at 1:24 PM

Flora Duh on July 10, 2012 at 1:21 PM

OH dear, the gal who was hit with the ugly stick is a hypocite on her statements on Mitt? I am shocked!
L

letget on July 10, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Unions spending their forced dues on anything other than strictly union work (which is very, very little) should be illegal. It’s offensive enough that closed shops exist (which is a total affront to the Constitution and AMerica, in general) but that they get to abuse those extorted dues for anything other than what is absolutely necessary to the daily operation of the union is ridiculous.

That said, all contributions from anyone pale in comparison to the in-kind propagandizing done by the MSM. It’s hard to even put a monetary value on it … but someone should. You have the MSM time, the MSM imprimatur (for those sheep who do care), the MSM monopolizing of their own airtime and page inches. You really can’t buy this sort of campaign advertisement.

But, so long as everyone is allowed to express their opinion on politics (i.e. even private, non-union, non-MSM organizations are allowed to say what they want) then at least the field is only tilted 80% in favor of the America-hating left. It’s better than the normal 90% wall.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on July 10, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Yall want to know another anecdote of how unbalanced the sides are? Yesterday I called my Texas state senator to excoriate him for backing Dewhurst over Cruz. The girl said my issue was campaign related and she would have to call me back after hours since she could not do campaign work in her capacity as a secretary in his office even though she also worked for the campaign.

She actually called me back during her lunch hour to say the Chronicle piece with the signed letter was not an endorsement. But like voter integrity, one side respects campaign laws and the other abuses it.

DanMan on July 10, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Oh yeah flora

She was just on again touting mitt evil swiss account

cmsinaz on July 10, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Yes, unions have the soft power of volunteer work. Our local unions show up for whatever door to door campaign needed.

PattyJ on July 10, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Labor Unions have always been a money-laundering operation to force tax-payer dollars into Democrat campaigns. That’s the only reason they still exist. We have enough lawyers to prevent the shenanigans workers used to have to put up with.

goflyers on July 10, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Until Citizens United, Big Labor — which has a vested interest in continually growing the size of government at all levels and electing the politicians with whom they get to negotiate their contracts — not only had the field mostly to themselves …

Somewhere today, a tear falls from John McCain’s eye.

TXUS on July 10, 2012 at 2:01 PM

“Labor spent huge money in the election cycle?”
“But…but….Koch brothers, Rush, Halliburton, Booosh, Cheney….baaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh”

-liberals

search4truth on July 10, 2012 at 2:04 PM

WSJ: Unions contribute four times what FEC disclosures show

…and when will the LSM have to disclose to the FEC what they contribute in partisan form?
Campaign finance reform at its best!

KOOLAID2 on July 10, 2012 at 2:08 PM

Since the failed Wisconsin recall efforts were funded by these self-same unions, we obviously owe Scott Walker (and his donors!) a huge “thank you”. No matter what the unions may say publicly, those dollars spent in Wisconsin cannot be easily replaced in time for the 2012 presidential campaign. This has to hurt Obama, big time.

MTF on July 10, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Progressivism, Propaganda & Pretending

http://predicthistunpredictpast.blogspot.com/2012/07/progressivism-propaganda-pretending.html

M2RB: Eric Clapton

Resist We Much on July 10, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Yakko77 on July 10, 2012 at 1:03 PM

Carter – 1976
Obama – 2008

Difference is 32 years so give it another 32 years and the electorate will do it again.

chemman on July 10, 2012 at 2:40 PM

Indeed, how profoundly kind of the SEIU to gentle thump the noggins of those whose thought process are confused and need just a little nudge to properly focus…

SWalker on July 10, 2012 at 1:07 PM

And if that doesn’t work, just think how quickly your mind will be off this after wrapping a blood-soaked towel around the nub of the finger some helpful SEIU goon bit off.

There are better things to think about. Like, the quickest route to the hospital.

Axeman on July 10, 2012 at 4:21 PM