- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 20, 2002

With midterm congressional elections less than three weeks away, you can be certain that Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Terry McAuliffe is working overtime arranging for millions of dollars to be funneled from union treasuries to Democratic coffers. Once again, the Democratic Party has been utterly swamped on the level playing field in fair competition for regulated, voluntary hard-money contributions from small donors. So, once again the party will try to bridge the gap by grabbing involuntary small contributions, which will cumulatively total in the millions. As in the past, the Democratic Party will rely on Big Labor bosses to dip into their dues-financed union treasuries for last-minute, unlimited, unregulated and, for the most part, involuntary soft-money contributions to the party.
An earlier editorial detailed how unions in past campaigns delayed millions of dollars in soft-money contributions to national Democratic political committees until just weeks before the election. That gambit helped to hide both from the media and from union members, especially the 35 percent to 40 percent who regularly vote for Republican candidates the extent to which the union bosses opened their treasuries and funneled their members' dues payments to the Democratic Party.
As it happens, the unions' soft-money contributions to national Democratic committees represented only a portion of their members' dues money that was involuntarily transferred to Democratic candidates. The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), the Center for Public Integrity and the National Institute on Money in State Politics three nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations that track money in politics this summer released an exhaustive study of the finances of state party committees. The study revealed for the first time the extent to which Big Labor bosses funneled their members' dues to the Democratic Party through its state party committees.
Focusing on the 1999-2000 election cycle, data from the study revealed the following:
Twelve unions cumulatively contributed more than $17 million in soft money to Democratic state committees, representing 93 percent. Republican state committees received $1.2 million, or 7 percent. (When the state party donations are combined with the $29.3 million in soft money that labor unions donated in the 1999-2000 cycle to Democratic national committees, according to data compiled by the CRP, Democrats received $46.3 million in soft money from organized labor, or 96.8 percent of labor's total soft-money contributions.)
cAmong the eight largest soft-money contributors to state parties a field that includes corporations, unions, trade associations and wealthy individuals unions occupied five spots. These were the National Education Association (NEA), $3.62 million; the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), $2.34 million; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), $1.95 million; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), $1.91 million; and the AFL-CIO, $1.36 million. As is the case with soft-money donations to national party committees, well over 95 percent of total soft-money union contributions were directed to Democratic state party committees.
cAmong the six largest overall soft-money contributors to both state and national committees, five were labor unions: the AFSCME, $7.85 million; the SEIU, $6.64 million; the NEA, $4.54 million; the Carpenters and Joiners Union, $3.89 million; and the IBEW, $3.68 million.
Several labor organizations chose to funnel the vast majority of their total (i.e., federal and state) soft-money contributions to state committees, whose receipts until this study was conducted were essentially undetected by the media. The $3.62 million in soft-money contributions to state parties by the NEA and its affiliates, which transferred most of the money through their political action committees, was four times the NEA's soft-money donations to national committees. The Teamsters Union's contributions to state party committees ($1.03 million) were more than three times its contributions to national committees, while the AFL-CIO's state contributions ($1.36 million) were nearly double.
In terms of when many of their soft-money donations were made to Democratic state committees, Big Labor bosses followed the same pattern that they pursued when contributing to national Democratic committees. Literally millions of dollars cascaded into Democratic coffers during the last five weeks of the two-year election cycle. For example:
SEIU contributed nearly $1.6 to Democratic state party committees after Oct. 1, including more than $700,000 to California, $280,000 to Florida, $150,000 to Ohio, $115,000 to Pennsylvania, $100,000 to Missouri and $93,000 to Illinois.
The IBEW contributed more than $1.2 million in soft money to Democratic state committees after Oct. 1, including $100,000 to California, $127,500 to Florida, $80,000 to Illinois, $100,000 to Michigan, $115,000 to Minnesota, $200,500 to Missouri and $182,000 to Ohio.
AFSCME funneled nearly $1 million into Democratic state committees after Oct.1, 2000, including $140,000 to California, $115,000 to Florida, $70,000 to Illinois, $75,000 to Missouri, $140,000 to Oregon and $75,000 to Washington.
cThe NEA's Florida branch made $518,000 of its $650,000 in total soft-money donations to Democratic state committees after Oct. 1. The NEA's Michigan outfit gave the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee $85,000 on Oct. 4 and $315,000 on Oct. 9.
cMore than $500,000 of the Carpenters and Joiners Union's soft-money contributions to state committees arrived after Oct. 1.
Nearly half of the $400,000 in soft-money contributions to Democratic state committees by the Communications Workers of America arrived after Oct. 1. The same is true for the $500,000 in total soft-money donations to Democratic state committees by the United Food and Commercial Workers Unions. More than half ($602,000) of Teamsters' total soft-money contributions to Democratic state committees were made after Oct. 1.
For the record, according to the results of extensive exit-poll surveys compiled by Congressional Quarterly's authoritative "Vital Statistics on American Politics: 2001-2002":
Among the votes by members of union households for the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates during the last five presidential elections (1984-2000), the GOP candidate received an average of 38 percent.
Among the votes by members of union households for congressional candidates in the last five general elections (1992-2000), Republican candidates received 33 percent (1992), 39 percent (1994), 36 percent (1996), 35 percent (1998) and 38 percent (2000).
Despite Republican candidates receiving an average of 38 percent of union household votes at the presidential level (1984-2000) and 36 percent at the congressional level (1992-2000), labor unions funneled 96.8 percent of their total soft-money contributions at both the federal and state levels to Democrats during the 1999-2000 cycle, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (national party committees) and the joint investigation of state parties. As noted above, the same data also revealed that Democratic Party committees received $46.3 million of the $47.8 million in soft-money contributions made by labor unions to both national and state party committees during the 1999-2000 cycle. It is one of the greatest swindles of the modern era.

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