Millions Spent on Election at Taxpayers’ and Union Members’ Expense

For Immediate Release
Commonwealth Foundation
Contact: 717-671-1901

Four Top Donors to Wolf Campaign Were Gov. Unions  

Spent a Total of Nearly $9 Million to Choose their Negotiating Partners

November 19, 2014, HARRISBURG, Pa.—Wouldn’t it be nice if you could fire your own boss, choose his replacement, and force the people paying your salary to help make it happen? That’s the deal that government unions were able to swing this November by pumping more than $7 million directly to political candidates across Pennsylvania—including $2.7 million given to Governor-elect Tom Wolf—and at least $1.6 million in election-related TV ads, all collected by taxpayers.

“Pennsylvania government union leaders gave 50 percent more money to candidates than last election cycle—money taxpayers paid to collect from union members,” stated Nathan Benefield, vice president of policy analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation.

Click here for more details on government union political spending this election cycle.

The most recent campaign finance reports show seven Pennsylvania government unions gave $7.2 million in campaign contributions in 2013-2014. That’s up from the $4.7 million during the last election cycle.

Top PAC Spenders in 2013-2014:

  • PSEA: $3,037,756
  • SEIU: $2,119,312
  • AFSCME: $1,178,197
  • UFCW: $385,179

According to, four of the top ten contributors to the Wolf campaign were government unions, equaling $2.3 million. All told, Tom Wolf received $2.7 million in PAC contributions from eleven government unions.

“That’s just PAC money, money collected from workers’ paychecks that can be given directly to candidates. Government union leaders also use their members’ dues—many times without their knowledge—for a variety of political activities in support of candidates,” Benefield noted.

Government unions funneled an additional $1.6 million in members’ dues to Pennsylvania “SuperPACs” like PA Families First, which ran several TV ads in support of Tom Wolf for governor (example).

In the end, government unions spent at least $9 million in 2013-2014 on election related activities.

Benefield put things in perspective by contrasting government union spending with a recent report on natural gas industry political spending since 2007:

Including the latest public numbers, government unions spent four times what gas drillers did in campaign contributions, and $22 million more than gas companies when lobbying costs are included. And government unions have the unique benefit of using taxpayer resources to collect their political money.

Nathan Benefield and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact us at 717-671-1901 to schedule an interview.

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For more information, please contact our director of media relations for the Commonwealth Foundation at 717-671-1901 or

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