The Elephant in Gov. Wolf’s Reception Room

A few recent articles and editorials have directed attention to political contributions by gas drillers, while ignoring a far larger and more powerful interest group—government unions. The fact is, political spending by government unions dwarfs that of energy interests.

We can’t keep ignoring the elephant in the room.

From 2007-2014, political action committees of 11 unions that represent public sector employees spent $24.8 million, including $10.5 just last cycle. These unions spent an additional $46.5 million in union dues on “political activities and lobbying.”

That’s $70 million in reported political spending from an incomplete list of Pennsylvania’s government unions.

According to Follow the Money data, in 2013-14, campaign contributions to candidates from “Labor” went overwhelmingly to Democrats over Republicans—by a near 8 to 1 ratio, or $15.6 million to $2 million.

Labor campaign contributions in PA 2014

Of course, the biggest recipient of union campaign contributions was Gov. Tom Wolf himself, getting more than $3.4 million in political contributions directly from union PACs—plus millions in additional support through union “independent expenditures.”

Earlier this year, Matt sent Gov. Wolf a letter noting how the governor’s positions on many issues (pension reform, school choice, liquor privatization, severance tax, education spending) are in lock step with union leaders and called on him to put Pennsylvania taxpayers above special interests.

Instead, the governor’s vetoes have followed union wishes at the expense of hardworking Pennsylvanians. 

There’s an elephant in Gov. Wolf’s reception room, and it’s time we start talking about it.