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AFSCME, Public Employees Union, Is No. 1 Election Spender -- for Now

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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."

Gerald McEntee, AFSCMEThe 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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15 Comments

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ctplayboys

87.5 Million is not much considering that the US Chamber of Commerce took in 140 Million in donations in 2008, half of that from only 45 anonymous donors. Not to mention the millions of dark money that comes into the CoC's coffers from foreign shores. I would not trust the CofC to feed my goldfish.

October 23 2010 at 1:28 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Michael

In addition to the wages paid to Federal, State, and Municipal employees, the dues to fund union political contributions must come from taxpayer pockets. How is it that taxpayers must provide the cash which flows almost exclusively to Democrat causes, seldom aligned with the interests of the taxpayer hosts themselves?

October 22 2010 at 8:35 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
John Vilvens

Is this the stimulas money Obama gave states for these unions. Government employees union(PAYED WITH TAX MONEY) donating to one party. Time to stop paying them with tax money.

October 22 2010 at 7:47 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
ettu

Many union members do not appreciate their dues going to support ANY campaign. The rest of the taxpayers resent the fact that Obama used OUR money to refill the union coffers, under the guise of stimulus. This maneuvering by the current administration has a whole lot of us ticked off. It is almost November, and we DO remember.

October 22 2010 at 7:27 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
ddem83

I wonder how many people agree to support their monies going to one party???? Is this America???? Did the union care about their people, If they had enough food for the kids, or money to pay the bills or morgage ???? How about caring for the people,instead of political gain!!!!! Wheres our choice?????!!!!!

October 22 2010 at 4:00 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ddem83's comment
mcgowann

This is the union that represents government workers. American Federal State County & Municipal Employees. Their goal is to keep the Pro-Stimulus people in office to guarantee their jobs at double the pay of the same private job, their benefits and their pensions. You know, the ones that are bankrupting federal, state, county and municipal governments.

October 22 2010 at 8:43 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

......THERE OUGHT TO BE A LAW: that prohibits government unions to contribute to parties. Members give the unions money to be represented. Since they cannot strike because they are government employees unions are there to represent members NOT use that money as PAC money. Enough, make it law!!!

October 22 2010 at 12:57 PM Report abuse +15 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to dc walker's comment
Kenneth

Why are these unions sending workers dues on supporting political campaigns and lobbyists. When these funds could be used to help out of work union members. That is the one thing I hate about unions. As long as you are working and paying your dues your a good member. When you lose your job and unable to continue paying does they could care less about you. I was working a union job and was injured through a job related injury. I had to fight for workmans comp. It too almost a year to win my case.The whole year I had zero income and the union did nothing to help or even get my job back after the workman's comp ended. All they were worried about was me bringing my dues up to date if I wanted to remain a member. You can all guess what my answer was. Due to the high unemployment and my age being almost 62 at the time my workman's comp ended and due to the fact I was ruled I could work at a limited capacity I was forced to take retirement at 62.

October 22 2010 at 12:51 PM Report abuse +14 rate up rate down Reply
Tracy

I would rather hear from the union members themselves regarding the big spending than the head of the union. I wonder if the president of the AFSCME even knows what the members think.

October 22 2010 at 12:46 PM Report abuse +14 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Tracy's comment
wolfsonnydiane

You can bet his menbers agree with him money comes from political donations not dues

October 22 2010 at 12:58 PM Report abuse -10 rate up rate down Reply
John Vilvens

Actually to get the job part of your dues have to go in the public fund that is used for political funds. It is not a choice. It is that way in most unions.

October 22 2010 at 7:50 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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