Unions spent $4.4 billion on elections between 05 and 11

by Sonny Bunch on July 10, 2012

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Brody Mullins and Tom McGinty show that unions spent $4.4 billion on electioneering between 2005 and 2011—a figure four times higher than previously assumed.

The hours spent by union employees working on political matters were equivalent in 2010 to a shadow army much larger than President Barack Obama’s current re-election staff, data analyzed by the Journal show.

The usual measure of unions’ clout encompasses chiefly what they spend supporting federal candidates through their political-action committees, which are funded with voluntary contributions, and lobbying Washington, which is a cost borne by the unions’ own coffers. These kinds of spending, which unions report to the Federal Election Commission and to Congress, totaled $1.1 billion from 2005 through 2011, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

The unions’ reports to the Labor Department capture an additional $3.3 billion that unions spent over the same period on political activity. …

Corporations and their employees also tend to spread their donations fairly evenly between the two major parties, unlike unions, which overwhelmingly assist Democrats. In 2008, Democrats received 55% of the $2 billion contributed by corporate PACs and company employees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Labor unions were responsible for $75 million in political donations, with 92% going to Democrats.

You really should read the whole thing. This is the most important story of the day.

This is why it’s so frustrating for conservatives to hear, repeatedly, how terrible money is on the political system, how we have to regulate it and keep big corporations and their fatcat board members out of the political process. First off, corporate money is distributed pretty evenly. Secondly, and more importantly, unions are spending billions to ensure favorable treatment from local, state, and federal governments. Absurdly expensive pensions that go underfunded because governors assume unbelievably high rates of return on state investments, absurdly cheap health insurance, absurdly strong protections from being fired—that’s what this $4.4 billion has bought.

There’s a reason states across the country are suffering budget crises. And it’s not because of corporate political spending.

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