At least give the unions marks for more honesty than the Clintons. The Department of Labor records perused by the union watchdog group National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR) includes disclosures of millions of dollars going from Big Labor to the Clinton Foundation. As Bill McMorris notes for the Washington Free Beacon, some of those are labeled … rather accurately:
“U.S. Department of Labor’s union financial disclosure reports reveal that Big Labor gave at least $2,034,500 in union general treasury funds to Clinton Foundations. Union treasuries are funded mostly by compulsory union dues or fees collected from workers who would be fired for refusing to pay,” the NILRR report says. “As Mrs. Clinton became closer to her current run for president, donations amounts appear to have increased.”
Very accurately, in fact:
“Some of these ‘donations’ are categorized by the unions as ‘political’ on their financial disclosure report” to the Labor Department, the report says.
United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices, a national plumbers union, for example, poured in nearly $200,000 through two contributions in 2013; each of those donations was classified as a political activity.
The AFL-CIO, one of the nation’s most influential labor groups, contributed $23,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012 and reported the donation as a political activity. The union lobbied the State Department several times about pending free trade agreements over the course of the year.
In other words, this is just another one of those coincidences, kind of like the one that put $500,000 into Bill Clinton’s pocket from the banker brokering a deal that would put control of half of the US’ uranium resources into the hands of Vladimir Putin. There are a lot of these kinds of coincidences popping up these days, no?
One expects to see these kinds of donations to political campaigns. Over the last few decades, those kinds of “political activities” have benefited Democrats almost exclusively, but at least there is usually some kind of internal competition for union largesse. During her tenure as Secretary of State — when Hillary was conducting negotiations on trade agreements — and afterward, it appears that the Clintons used their foundation to cement a monopoly on union support within the Democratic Party.
This will undoubtedly raise eyebrows on the right and center. Hillary’s big move to cement a monopoly on other sources of funding through a new super-PAC has progressives angry, CNN has noticed:
Hillary Clinton’s decision to personally raise money for a super PAC supporting her campaign is agitating her progressive critics, who see the move as further proof that the Democratic presidential frontrunner doesn’t share some of their values. …
Within days of announcing her White House bid, Clinton had called out wealthy investors for paying too little in taxes and pledged to get big money out of politics. At the time, it was a welcome message for liberal Democrats who are uncomfortable with Clinton’s close ties to Wall Street and find the prominent role of super PACs in elections utterly distasteful.
But the recent revelation that Clinton will personally fundraise for a super PAC supporting her campaign — a decision to play by the rules of a system she has condemned as “dysfunctional” — has invited fresh eye-rolling. It has also exposed a core tension for Democrats, who have increasingly embraced super PACs at the same time that they decry the explosion of soft money in national politics.
The move certainly sets up some cognitive dissonance to the progressive pose described today by the Washington Post. Hillary’s defenders will no doubt retort that Barack Obama used those same kinds of fundraising structures, but once again, Hillary Clinton is not Barack Obama. Obama came into presidential politics entirely free of the baggage Hillary carries, and free of the ties to Wall Street that Hillary and Bill have long courted (although Obama courted them as well). She has a long track record that progressives have to reconcile, while Obama was more or less a blank slate on which they could project their aspirations, even while Obama talked up his supposed post-partisan centrism.
Ron Fournier wonders whether Hillary can sell authenticity by going full progressive, too:
Even after all these years, I don’t know whether her full-throated liberalism is a genuine reflection of her views or an echo of the polls. I guess the answer could be “both,” but I doubt it. That just seems to be too neat of a coincidence.
I suspect she’ll try to explain herself, but when? She’s refuses to talk to the media in any great detail.
I suppose voters could take her at her word, but why? Trust is an issue. Legitimate questions about her government email and family foundation were met with disingenuous responses.
I imagine she can get over the authenticity hurdle, but how?
Maybe spending all of that super-PAC money to decry the Citizens United decision will help?