Two top newspapers are examining two of the top spenders in this year's campaigns. The Wall Street Journal says the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is the no. 1 independent spender
. The New York Times delves into public records to identify corporations that are helping to fund policy battles and record campaign spending by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
According to the Journal, AFSCME is spending $87.5 million -- more than anyone else, but the title could be temporary depending on what happens in the next 10 days. The union's money comes from dues paid by its 1.6 million members.
State and local governments have been devastated by the recession and are dependent on Congress for money to limit layoffs of teachers, cops, firefighters and other workers. AFSCME President Gerald McEntee called the spending big and said members are "damn happy it's big."
The Times' digging revealed, among other things, huge contributions to the chamber from Prudential Financial, Dow Chemical, Goldman Sachs, Chevron Texaco, and Aegon. The firms were trying to influence congressional debate on federal regulation of various industries.
More than 90 percent of the chamber's campaign spending is going to help Republicans. The group is the No. 1 campaign spender
, aside from party committees, in a chart from the Center for Responsive Politics. The chart lists AFSCME as sixth but does not include all of the union's spending.
Related: The Campaign Money Trap: Reformers Become Flip-Floppers When Victory Is in Sight
The Supreme Court's Citizen United decision in January opened the floodgates for unlimited campaign spending by unions and corporations. Disclosure is not required
of them or the groups they give to. The Sunlight Foundation estimates that nearly $100 million in "dark money
" has been spent on 2010 elections so far.
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