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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Unlike GOP Corporate Donors, Labor Campaign Spending is Transparent

One of the most frequently-parroted lies of Republican candidates is that organized Labor’s contributions to Democratic candidates is no more transparent than corporate contributions to GOP candidates. Joan McCarter sets the record straight at Daily Kos with her post drawing on Ben Smith’s “Union disclosure unlike other groups‘” at Politico. As McCarter explains:

One of the primary defenses you keep hearing from the astroturf groups and the GOP they’re spending all their millions on is that there’s no difference between what they’re doing and what labor does–campaign spending without disclosure. Politico’s Ben Smith shoots that one down very effectively.

McCarter quotes Smith:

…When it comes to disclosure, talk of unions is a red herring. While they aren’t required by the FEC or IRS to disclose donors, a separate piece of federal law, the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, requires that unions disclose all sources of income that adds up to more than $5,000, a requirement overseen by the Department of Labor. As a result, unions disclose more than many political groups about their internal operations, and certainly more than than do 501(c)(4) nonprofits like Crossroads GPS or 501(c)(6) groups like the Chamber.

Smith quotes SEIU spokesperson Michell Ringuette:

There are strict legal limits that help make our political efforts transparent. Most of our political funding comes from SEIU COPE, which reports its donors on a monthly basis, which cannot accept more than $5000 a year from any one donor, and whose donors overwhelmingly are a hundred thousand low wage workers contributing around $10 a pay period. To the extent we do political work funded by our general treasury, most of which is member to member work funded by and accountable to those same low wage workers. We don’t – and can’t – solicit contributions from non-members. And of course it is disclosed.
The Chamber and the shadowy 527 and c4 groups that have sprung up after Citizens United – perhaps more aptly called corporations united – are conduits for undisclosed corporate money, pure and simple. We are a union of working people, and the money we spend on politics is money donated by workers…

And that’s a huge difference Dems should always note whenever the topic of campaign funding transparency is raised.

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