Check for the union label (The Michigan View 10.28.10)

Posted by hpayne on October 28, 2010

In the election stretch run, a beleaguered Democratic Party has struck its familiar pose as the party for Main Street, not Wall Street — a political levee against a flood of corporate and special interest money. But as the enormous special interest sums flowing into the paradoxically anti-special interest campaign of Secretary of State candidate Jocelyn Benson show, the image couldn’t be more misleading.

Thanks to massive stimulus expenditures in Washington on politically-favored public employees, Democrats are awash in special interest money this election cycle. While taxpayers have suffered through the worst downturn since the Great Depression, the federal government has used their tax money to cushion fat public employee unions. Thankful unions have cycled millions of that revenue back to Democratic campaigns.

The result? The Number One campaign spender this year is not Big Business, it is Big Labor.

“The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is now the biggest outside spender of the 2010 elections,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The 1.6 million-member AFSCME is spending a total of $87.5 million on the elections.”

“We’re the big dog,” brags Larry Scanlon, the head of AFSCME’s political operations, and Big Labor wants to stay there.

State government unions have been the recipient of $160 billion in Democratic largesse to prevent public-sector layoffs. In Michigan, it has allowed public unions like AFSCME, the MEA, and the UAW to avoid layoffs and pay cuts. The Mackinac Center reports that state employee payrolls grew by four percent even as private payrolls were slashed 11 percent. Democrats have been at the receiving end of huge campaign gifts as Big Labor fears a GOP win this November will reduce the gravy train to a trickle.

Every major Democrat in Michigan is raking in the campaign donations. Democratic Secretary of State candidate Jocelyn Benson told The Detroit News this month that she’s running in part because of her concern over Big Money influencing politics. “It will be my mission as your next Secretary of State to ensure that no large corporations or powerful special interests down (sic) out your voice,” she says on her website.

That is an odd claim from a candidate who has raised a staggering $800,000 – in part from radical George Soros-supported activist groups – but primarily from Big Labor. For example, the SoS candidate has receives a whopping $34,000 (the maximum contribution allowed) by the United Auto Workers. Yes, the UAW. Even as its auto membership has declined, the union has become a major public employee representative boasting UAW Local 6000 – the state’s largest public employee union.

In a View analysis of Benson’s campaign contributions, Big Labor is everywhere. In addition to the UAW’s gift, the anti-special interest candidate’s contributor list is a Who’s Who of Big Labor special interests:

Michigan Education Association Political Action Committee: $33,950 American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees: $10,000 American Federation of Teachers, Michigan PAC: $5,000 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, PAC Local 58: $5,000 Michigan Nurses Association PAC: $5,000 Plumbers and Steamfitters 85 PAC: $2,500 United Food and Commercial Workers: $2,000 – Iron Workers Local: $450

And so on. Benson also insists that she is a non-partisan candidate, but her Big Union backers – unlike corporations which play both sides – are extremely partisan with some 90 percent of their contributions going to Democrats. If elected to office, the “non-partisan, non-special interest” candidate looks increasingly like a Trojan Horse for George Soros and a mule for Big Labor.

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