Million-Dollar Attack Ads
Funded by Taxpayer-Collected Union Dues
America Works USA’s Ads Make Case for Paycheck Protection
January 21, 2016, Harrisburg, Pa.—Seeing a political attack ad on TV is nothing new. You probably roll your eyes and change the channel. But what if you learned you unwittingly helped put that ad on the air? Most Pennsylvanians would be shocked—and for good reason.
Since December 29, 2015, the union-backed political group America Works USA has spent more than $1.1 million to air misleading ads trashing the state budget as “garbage” and parroting the Wolf administration’s false claim that the budget “cuts education.”
Unknown to many is that these ads are funded using union dues collected using public resources.
Fact: AFSCME Council 13, representing Pennsylvania state workers, gave $115,000 directly to America Works USA.
Fact: The National Education Association, the parent union of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, gave $1 million directly to America Works USA.
Fact: America Works USA is also funded by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA).
Fact: Government unions gave nearly $6.5 million to the DGA, according to the latest annual reports filed with the U.S Department of Labor.
Fact: Last year, the American Federation of Teacher alone—the parent union of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers—sent just under $1.5 million to the DGA. AFSCME National Headquarters sent more than $4 million.
Fact: This is money taken from the mandatory union dues (not voluntary PAC contributions) of teachers and other state workers using publicly funded payroll systems.
“This is yet another example of government union leaders forcing taxpayers to be unwitting accomplices to their political agenda,” stated Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation. “Not everyone has the perk of being able to use public payroll systems to collect campaign contributions, but public unions have long enjoyed this special privilege. It’s time Pennsylvania require unions to collect their own attack-ad money and stop using public resources to bankroll their politics.”
Last year, the state Senate passed paycheck protection (SB 501), which is supported by 67 percent of Pennsylvanians and would end the use of public resources to collect government unions’ political money. The bill is now before the House.
Matthew Brouillette and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment today. Please contact Gina Diorio at 862-703-6670 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.
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