You probably hear a lot about "money in politics," but rarely do pundits correctly identify the largest source of special interest political spending. According to a new report, big labor spent a reported $1.7 billion on politics during the 2012 election cycle.
A new analysis from the National Institute for Labor Relations Research finds that labor unions spent $1.3 billion during 2011 and 2012, from dues, on political activities and lobbying based on self-reported data. Union PACs collectively gave another $270 million during the 2012 election to federal, state and local candidates, and spent another $45 million on elections through union-controlled activist groups known as 527's.
While unions cannot make contributions to candidates from required membership dues federally in most states, they can set up political action committees (PACs) for this purpose, and they can and do use membership dues for lobbying or "educational efforts" to get out the vote, and even independent ads in support of endorsed candidates.
Moreover, in the case of government unions, taxpayers help support this political spending. State and local governments collect dues—and even PAC contributions—for unions, automatically deducting them from workers' paychecks like taxes, before workers ever see the money.
In a recent op-ed, Matt Brouillette explains why this political spending, and the unfair privilege given to government unions, thwart good policies that most Pennsylvanians support.
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