- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania’s open records agency has ruled that the state government must disclose the amounts of donations to political action committees that are taken directly out of public-sector union workers’ paychecks, but it does not have to make the donors’ names public.

The Office of Open Records ruled late Monday that suburban Philadelphia activist Simon Campbell is entitled to the list of donations, but Campbell said he needs the names so union workers can verify they authorized the PAC donations and so they can verify their unions comply with election law.

“It’s completely corrupt to use taxpayer resources for election-influencing activity,” Campbell said Tuesday. “This is not union dues. PAC money is campaign contributions. That’s money to get politicians elected.”

The state government allows certain unionized employees to designate a portion of their pay to go to their union’s political action committee. The ruling by appeals officer Charles Rees Brown said the state collected about $775,000 for union PACs last year.

The state Office of Administration had turned down Campbell’s request, but the records agency reversed it in part, saying it must make the donations public and identify the PACs, but not the names. The decision cited U.S. Supreme Court precedent from 1960 involving NAACP membership and the constitutional right of freedom of association.

“Because the names of PACs receiving contributions through payroll deduction are not linked to any specific individual, the disclosure of names of such PACs does not infringe on the individual’s freedom of association,” Brown wrote.

Unions PACs, like other PACs, are required to file periodic reports with the state that identify their donors.

Campbell said he planned to appeal the names issue to Commonwealth Court.

“A political committee isn’t the NAACP; it’s an entity defined in the Election Code and it must produce public campaign finance reports,” he said.

Joshua Maus, spokesman for the governor's legal office, said the decision allows the state to protect the personal financial information of its workers, so the administration does not plan its own appeal.

Some states prohibit such payroll deductions, while others permit them, an Office of Administration spokesman said last year.

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Online:

Ruling: http://bit.ly/1iVE5Sa