- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 5, 2004

“To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors,” Thomas Jefferson argued, “is sinful and tyrannical.” This Labor Day, as the presidential campaign traditionally moves into high gear, Jefferson’s words should be of special interest to the millions of union households whose members regularly vote for Republicans. While the hearts and minds of these millions are clearly with the GOP, hundreds of millions of dollars of their dues payments have been funneled from their union treasuries to support the Democratic candidates and liberal causes these Republican-voting workers oppose. It is a scandalous issue, but receives scant investigative coverage by America’s major media. In the current electoral cycle alone, labor leaders have emptied their treasuries of tens of millions of dollars in soft money and have funneled the lucre to labor-organized 527 groups in order to finance anti-Bush political activities.

Pursuing their own best interests, millions of union workers and members of their families consistently support Republicans. The data are irrefutable. According to the exit polls that typically survey more than 15,000 voters, since 1972, when union households cast more votes for Richard Nixon than for George McGovern, Republican presidential candidates have received an average of more than 41 percent of the union-household votes cast for the candidates of the two major parties. On the other hand, Democrats are the beneficiaries of well over 95 percent of union funds spent on politics.

Regarding union-donated soft money — the unlimited political contributions that come from their general treasuries — virtually 100 percent of the funds are spent on behalf of Democratic candidates. With the advent of 527s, which replaced national political party committees as the recipients of soft money after the McCain-Feingold law prohibited national political parties from receiving soft money following the 2002 election, the amounts of union-contributed soft money have increased significantly.

• During the 1997-98 cycle, the cumulative soft-money donations from the 10 biggest-contributing unions totaled $8 million, of which 99.2 percent went to Democrats.

• During the 1999-2000 cycle, the 10 biggest-contributing unions donated $24.2 million in soft money, 99.3 percent of which went to Democrats.

• During the 2001-02 cycle, the 10 largest union contributors donated $30.2 million in soft money, of which 99.4 percent went to Democrats.

• So far in the 2003-2004 cycle, the 10 largest 527 committees organized by labor unions have receipts totaling $43.9 million. Virtually all of it will be spent on behalf of John Kerry, despite the fact that history shows President Bush will likely receive 40 percent of the union-household vote.

The Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the AFL-CIO have funneled $16.7 million, $13.7 million and $4.1 million, respectively, into their own 527s. But that is likely only the tip of the unions’ soft-money iceberg. For one thing, the totals are several months old, and, historically, unions have dramatically increased their soft-money contributions late in the campaign. Moreover, data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics reveal that these three labor organizations have contributed at least another $10 million to other Democratic 527s.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, The Washington Post recently reported, needs Mr. Kerry in the White House to repeal a “directive Bush signed during his first month in office requiring federal contractors to post signs alerting workers they have a right to refuse paying union dues that are used for political purposes.” Thomas Jefferson would be utterly horrified.

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